White Collar Insanity

Deputy Clerk David S. Morrison worked at the Scott County Courthouse in March of 1891. Trusted deputy clerks handled all monies for court costs, fees, and allowances made to jail staff, witnesses, and so forth. The system of the era required the clerk to create a “certified list,” of expenditures. He then submitted the list to an auditor in Richmond. The Richmond auditor then issued a ticket to reimburse the court. Morrison then paid the individuals, collected their tickets, as he was supposed to, but Morrison wasn’t going by the books. He then added just a little more onto the actual sum, and cashed the “cooked” ticket in with the state auditor.

Unbeknownst to Morrison, his shady bookkeeping started to draw attention. The Richmond auditor ordered an investigation. Court officials were shocked to discover their trusted clerk had embezzled around $30,000 in state and county funds, just since 1885. That would amount to over $830,000, today.

Morrison did not operate subtly. He falsified court documents, made fraudulent claims, and even created fake court cases that involved fictional individuals. One such fictitious case involved a man named Kinser, from Kansas, whom the court paid $175.

Morrison was judiciously arrested. He attempted to escape and fled towards Tennessee, but was captured. The authorities then brought him to Bristol, but Morrison escaped a second time. The authorities were certain they’d lost him forever. They assumed he’d gone out west to enjoy his fortune, or perhaps abroad to start a new life.

Morrison stunned the authorities, again, when he turned himself in. It was now December of 1893. He escaped their clutches two years before, but didn’t go far. He didn’t go out west or abroad. He literally imprisoned himself at his father’s house. The family physician, as well as the Morrison family, stated he had been a “raving maniac” for the entire time.

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