Remembering Rickie: Vigil Held For Murdered Sex Worker in Kensington
A funeral march gathered during the stagnant afternoon of July 22 at the St. Francis Inn. The procession continued to the corner of Jasper and East Cumberland Street to remember a friend, cousin, daughter and mother who was murdered.
Her name was Rickie Jolene Morgan and to her Kensington family she was Layla. She was born on October 8, 1980 and she was approaching her 36th birthday when she was murdered.
“Whether you knew her as Rickie or Layla, you loved her,” said Carol, a close friend of Morgan’s.
“Layla would sit with women and teach them how to be safe,” said Johanna Berrigan of the Catholic Worker Clinic. “Layla was fiercely intelligent and fiercely justice oriented. She wanted justice for the women in the community.”
Friends said that Morgan was a woman passionate about the treatment of her peers in Kensington. The sentiment that passed through the crowd was that Morgan was so much more than the headlines that confirmed her death.
“She had an open mind and a hungry spirit,” Berrigan said. “She walked many paths to seek divinity. At one time she was interested in the Catholic Faith. More recently she was interested in Islam. Layla had an open heart.”
Following a moment of silence, mourners, most with flowers in hand, walked down Kensington Avenue and turned on Letterly Street. The funeral marchers turned on Jasper Street and stopped at the memorial at Jasper and East Cumberland Streets.
Morgan had a butterfly tattoo on her left hand. A mourner passed photos of butterflies, torn from an old calendar, among the people gathered. Friends taped the photos to the chain-link fence that supported the memorial.
“Our greatest resolve is each other,” said Kit Horan of Thea’s Women’s Center at St. Francis Inn. “We should never have to tolerate violence. We need to know that it is not okay and cannot continue.”
Morgan was a mother: She had two children according to the poster at her memorial. A family friend said that Morgan’s kids were around 10 years old. Christopher Moraff, of The Daily Beast reported that Morgan’s daughter is 11 and her son is 10.
“Nothing will ever diminish the role she had in my life,” said Carol, a friend of Morgan’s. “Miles don’t matter. What is and always will be is friendship.”
Carol was shaken and appeared near tears as she read from a composition book. The cover of the notebook featured two kittens, nestled together.
“She’ll always be with me,” Carol said. “Like I said earlier, friendship doesn’t end like this, because of this.”
Police received a call at approximately 11:30PM on July 16 reporting screaming at the corner of Jasper and East Cumberland Street. They found Morgan, bloodied and beaten, in the street where she passed away.
Morgan was a sex worker who, according to The Daily Beast, was murdered by a man posing as a client. She was beaten and stabbed in the neck. She fled the abandon house she was working in and collapsed in the street.
An employee from the Catholic Worker Clinic said that she knew Morgan was murdered as soon as she heard about the tattoo on her left hand.
Police believe that this suspect is responsible for at least one other assault in the area. At this time, police do not have a clear lead on their suspect.