woman accuses coach of sexual abuse, later discovered dead

Woman Accuses Former Coach Of Sexual Abuse, Is Discovered Dead Months Later

Emilie Morris was doing amazing in October of 2014, after years of hiding a dark secret.

“She was doing better than I had ever seen her,” says longtime friend, Christine Lieber, who last saw her at an event they attended Oct. 26, 2014, along with their children and parents. “She was in a really good spot.”

woman accuses coach of sexual abuse, later discovered dead
Image via YouTube

Since Morris was just 16-years-old, she had alleged that her cross-country coach, James Wilder III, had begun sexually abusing her when she was a popular athlete at Lindbergh High School in St. Louis, Missouri.

It wasn’t until years after dealing with depression and alcoholism to cope with the pain she felt that she mustered the courage in July of 2013 to go to the police. She had captured Wilder on record admitting in a conversation what he had allegedly done to her.

Then, in August of 2013, Wilder, who is now 54, was arrested and charged with six counts of statutory sodomy, to which he pleaded not guilty.

Lieber noted how it was fantastic to watch Morris at peace. “The trial was coming to fruition and she was happy that there was finally going to be some justice,” she says.

woman accuses coach of sexual abuse, later discovered dead
Image via YouTube

RELATED: The Boy Scouts Of America Face Over 92,000 Claims Of Sexual Abuse

But on Nov. 4, 2014, Morris suddenly died, along with her case — as prosecutors said they needed her testimony to continue. And so the case was dismissed. “It was devastating,” her mother, Joan Morris, shares with PEOPLE.

An autopsy ruled that she died of asphyxiation. Morris’ manner of death was mysteriously undetermined. Based on reporting from BuzzFeed News, The Case Died with Her explores Morris’ allegations against Wilder and how her death permanently ended the investigation.

“This woman who was so strong and so resilient (was) holding onto that secret for so many years,” says former prosecutor and legal commentator Loni Coombs.

“She finally had the strength to come forward and just as she is about to have her chance at justice, she dies in this really tragic and strange way,” she says. “It was a gut punch to hear the ending of that story like that. And I was like, “Wait a minute. Wait a minute. What’s going on here? This just doesn’t seem right.”

woman accuses coach of sexual abuse, later discovered dead
Image via YouTube

RELATED: Matthew McConaughey Reveals He Was Sexually Abused As A Teen

Joan, as well as Morris’ younger sister, Andrea Morris, 35, hopes the special spreads her story.

“I would blame her failure to thrive on this alleged, early sexual abuse,” says Joan. “I wish that I could’ve seen what kind of person she would turn out to be had this not interrupted her life at the time that it did.” Andrea says.

“And the problem is, it sort of never stopped. That person was always an influence on her. It seems like it just gnawed away at her, her entire life until she decided to finally do something about it. And then, to have it just cut off at the knees like that when she passed away,” she says. “It was just unbelievable to wrap your mind around.”

The Case Died with Her airs Dec. 6 on Oxygen at 7 EST/6 CST.

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