Former LANL physicist, whistleblower found with weapons cache after 19-hour police standoff

Posted: January 16, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Officers trying to serve a warrant arrested Richard Lee Morse, 75, outside his 1350 Bathtub Row home at 11:45 a.m. after nearly 19 hours, according to Los Alamos police. Photo courtesy Carol A. Clark/Los Alamos Monitor)

Richard Lee Morse, 75, was arrested last week at his Los Alamos home after refusing to come out for 19 hours while police were trying to take him into custody so he could undergo a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation in Las Vegas, N.M.

The story is quite sad, actually. Morse has grown increasingly paranoid over the years since speaking out about the vulnerabilities of a nuclear warhead he worked on in the 1970s in Los Alamos.

He has in the past alleged police brutality and has filed suit against police and the Los Alamos County government.

He is currently awaiting trial on a case alleging he battered a police officer trying to remove him from a restaurant that had a  no-trespass order on him in Los Alamos in 2009. It was that case, being heard before State District Judge Stephen Pfeffer in Santa Fe, that was being put on hold until Morse underwent a psychiatric evaluation, but there were no beds available at the Las Vegas, N.M., hospital conducting the eval until last week… which is why police went to pick him up.

According to police reports/search warrant paperwork I was able to take a look at Friday, police were told Morse threatened violence if police tried to come get him and said he was not going to Las Vegas.

Police found three guns and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition in his home. As an order of his release on electronic monitoring while the pending criminal case is still being handled, he was not allowed to have guns in his home.Police also found nine cats — seven alive, two dead in his freezer.

In a court filing from 2009 (for a 2007 lawsuit he filed) he wrote the following:

“Plaintiff (referring to himself) is concerned about leaving his house, possessions and pets unattended for long intervals as vandalism has occurred and one cat was severely brutalized on two separate incidents around the time of Plaintiff’s arrest and beating in November 2006. Much more recently, while dining with friends, two of his cats were poisoned; one of them died. He is concerned that the local police, who are defendants in this case, will not protect his property adequately during his scheduled absence for hearings.”

There were some rumors that police nabbed Morse when he came outside to pick up his daily meals-on-wheels type lunch that is dropped off from a local senior center every morning. Los Alamos police say that isn’t what happened, instead he went outside to set some trash outside his house.

Here is the more in-depth article about the standoff and some of his background from Saturday’s edition of the New Mexican:

Carol Clark at the Los Alamos Monitor, who has been on top of this story from the day the standoff began and even had a jailhouse interview with Morse on Thursday, had a great article posted on the Monitor’s website Sunday about the man’s fascinating background.

From that Monitor article:

“I was aware of Richard Morse’s work and while it was controversial, it was considered brilliant. He certainly was a pioneer in plasma physics.” — LANL physicist Morrie Pongratz said

Carol’s Sunday article also has the following in reference to Morse’s home being deemed unsafe and uninhabitable by the county when inspected Friday:

“They turned my home upside-down and inside-out more than once – they know I know too much.” — Richard Lee Morse

  1. Jamie Lee Morse says:

    Geof, could you please let me know if you know of any new information about my grandfather.

    Jamie Lee Morse

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