Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen this morning investigates a murder case involving the son of a wealthy Corona del Mar man and a conman who was ultimately handed a life sentence from a judge in Long Beach.
In the early 1980s, Steven Bailey Williams was among the hottest celebrities in Denver, making up half of KBPI's radio tandem Steven B. and the Hawk.
By the early 2000s, Williams made a fortune not off his old radio gig but from the death of his father, who left his son a $2.4 million estate that included a Corona del Mar home valued at more than $1 million at the time.
He was approached by Harvey Stephen Morrow, who told Williams he was a New York investment banker who'd known his dad.
What Morrow did not tell Williams was this, which I documented in a 2011 story:
Money came to Harvey Stephen Morrow like flies to you-know-what. In the 1980s, he ran a boiler room operation in Florida that brought charges to company officers other than Morrow, who had disappeared. After the statute of limitations expired, Morrow re-surfaced in Colorado, where he married a lawyer and had children, a huge house, matching Mercedes Benzes, nine motorcycles, and great clothes. He told people he was an investment banker, but he was really a human resources officer. When his wife filed for divorce, Morrow set fire to one of her dresses and was later convicted of misdemeanor arson.
Knowing nothing of this obviously, Williams asked Morrow to set up a trust fund with nearly $2 million of the inheritance, including proceeds from the sale of the home. Morrow deposited the money into a bank account in the British Virgin Islands and then regularly withdrew funds in small increments that wound up in his personal account in a U.S. bank.
Morrow spent the money for things like refurbishing his private yacht, which had a fireplace, teak deck and more than $100,000 worth of electronics added. By then, Williams and Morrow were hanging out together, and the former deejay figured his investor was making a killing in the banking world.
Morrow would be making a killing all right.
As Williams and Morrow sailed the world and lived together in Corona del Mar and San Pedro, friends began asking about the inheritance. Williams, who was having to take voiceover work to get by, told one pal he was having trouble getting to his invested money. He told another he was going to confront Morrow about it once the investor returned from a fishing trip in Bishop.
Morrow and Williams sailed off together to Santa Catalina Island. The last person to see Williams alive was a boat owner at the marina on May 7, 2006. When friends asked Morrow what happened to Williams, they were told he had moved to Hawaii.
Williams' body was found off Catalina with a single bullet wound to the head. Police quickly suspected Morrow had something to do with the slaying, but by then he was gone.
He turned up selling cars at a dealership in Great Falls, Montana, where he pretended to be a grieving widower. He told Joe Parsetich, the manager at Pete's Auto Sales, that his wife had died in a boating accident in the Gulf of Mexico and that the tragedy shook him so much that he moved as far away from water as he could get.
But something about the story did not ring true for Parsetich, a former cop.
“[He] was a little bit too slick to be real," he explains to Chris Hansen in this morning's piece. "He shared enough truisms that it was very easy to uncover the rest of the story and put the pieces together.”
An Internet story posted by a Denver news station described Morrow as a "person of extreme interest" in the Williams slaying. Parsetich contacted a friend at the Cascade County Sheriff's Department. A week later, Montana and Los Angeles County authorities took Morrow into custody at Pete's.
On Dec. 16, 2011—five years after Williams was found floating and a month after a jury found Morrow guilty of first-degree murder—Long Beach Superior Court Judge Mark Kim sentenced the defendant to life in state prison without parole, plus an additional 25 years.
Besides Parsetich, the Crime Watch Daily segment includes interviews with Morrow's ex-wife Debra Kay, Williams’ friend and radio personality Rolleye James and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Sgt. Kenneth Clark.
If you can't see or record this morning's 11 a.m. broadcast, it will be repeated at 3 a.m. Wednesday. Find out more at crimewatchdaily.com.