Heartbreaking: the plea to find Johann’s body | Video, gallery

Johann Morgan's family appeal for help to find her body after Troy Ruttley convicted of her 2015 Tamworth murder


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Guilty of murder: Johann Morgan's sisters, from left to right, Yvonne, Vivienne, Stephanie and Rhonda Morgan outside court after Monday's verdict. Photo: Peter Hardin

Guilty of murder: Johann Morgan's sisters, from left to right, Yvonne, Vivienne, Stephanie and Rhonda Morgan outside court after Monday's verdict. Photo: Peter Hardin

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Her boyfriend has been found guilty of murder, but now the family want to lay her to rest.

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Desperate plea to bring her home

JOHANN Morgan’s family have made a tearful and desperate plea for her boyfriend to tell them where her body is after he was found guilty of her murder.

Troy Jason Ruttley showed no emotion in the NSW Supreme Court in Tamworth on Monday morning as he was found guilty of the murder of Ms Morgan – his on-off partner of six years.

The foreman for the jury of six men and six women rose to his feet and said Ruttley was “guilty” to the lone charge of murder after less than two days of deliberations.

Ms Morgan’s family, including her children and siblings, burst into tears in the back of the court and said the guilty verdict had lifted a great weight “from their hearts”.

“All I want is for him to give her up and give her back,” sister Vivienne Morgan said in an emotional interview.

“I just want to take her home.

“Her kids have been suffering for that long.”

Fighting back tears, Tamika Morgan, the eldest daughter of Johann, said the family just wanted closure – something they won’t have until they find the mother-of-eight’s body and lay her to rest.

“I just want my mother home,” she said.

Search for answers

The jury accepted the Crown’s case that Ruttley had killed Ms Morgan and dragged her body out of her Cole Rd home on the night of August 9, 2015.

He then used a Mitsubishi stationwagon – registered in his mother’s name – to dispose of the body.

He burnt the car the following day at an old quarry off the Oxley Highway, about 17km outside of Tamworth.

Despite several aerial searches and ground sweeps of paddocks, creeks and land between Coledale and Somerton, police have found no trace of Ms Morgan’s body.

Search for answers: Johann Morgan's family, including sister Kelly, daughter Tamika, Yvonne, Vivienne, Stephanie, Zach and Rhonda Morgan. Photo: Peter Hardin

Search for answers: Johann Morgan's family, including sister Kelly, daughter Tamika, Yvonne, Vivienne, Stephanie, Zach and Rhonda Morgan. Photo: Peter Hardin

Vivienne said it “was terrifying” for the family to give evidence throughout the seven-day trial but the close knit family had stayed strong, and stuck together.

“We've just being sticking it out, sticking together, keeping close together, hoping to just get all this through and get her back,” she said.

Johann was a good mother, a good grandmother, a lovable sister, never done any harm to anybody. - Sister Vivienne Morgan

“Johann was a good mother, a good grandmother, a lovable sister, never done any harm to anybody.”

Vivienne said the trial – which saw more than 40 witnesses called, including Ms Morgan’s children – “was hard on all of us” but they did “what we had to do for our sister”.

“I just want my sister back for her kids’ sake, and the grandkids, and the brothers and sisters,” she said.

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The family paid tribute to the officers-in-charge of the investigation – Detectives Graham Goodwin and Aaron Greenwood – and just want answers.

“I'd just like to thank Aaron and Graham for doing what you had to do for us, from the bottom of our hearts the Morgan family  think you're the best fighting for us and Tamworth police for helping,” Vivienne said.

Detective Senior Constable Goodwin welcomed the guilty murder verdict, but said the investigation was not over because “we would like to get Johann home to the family if we can”.

“Our job is still not over, we're still trying to find Johann Morgan and we would request that any member of the public that may have any information regarding her whereabouts or if someone knows someone that may know where she is if they can report it to us through Crime Stoppers or through Tamworth police station we would follow that up,” he said.

“Our job is still not over, we're still trying to find Johann Morgan and we would request that any member of the public that may have any information regarding her whereabouts or if someone knows someone that may know where she is if they can report it to us through Crime Stoppers or through Tamworth police station we would follow that up. - Detective Senior Constable Graham Goodwin

In the trial, Crown prosecutor Bryan Rowe said Ruttley did not search for Ms Morgan in the days after she went missing but told "deliberate lies" just after the disappearance that were "lies designed to hide his involvement".

On Monday, Justice Anthony Payne formally convicted Ruttley of murder and ordered the 46-year-old to remain behind bars ahead of sentencing in Tamworth in November.

Mr Rowe tendered Ruttley’s criminal history while defence barrister Anita Betts asked for a pre-sentence report and told the court she wanted to obtain “a psych report and psychologist’s report”.

Boyfriend murdered Johann

The Crown said “people were alarmed that they had not seen her ... Johann Morgan had people that noticed” and her family travelled to Tamworth in the days following to search for her before she was reported missing on August 16.

"It's fanciful that she went off to start a new life somewhere,” Mr Rowe told the jury in his closing address. 

He said she had left “essential personal possessions” including her wallet which contained her licence, bank cards, medicare and health care cards – all of which haven’t been touched since early-August.  

The jury heard forensic police found Ms Morgan’s blood stains inside the bedroom of her Cole Rd home, as well as pools in the backyard and a trail leading to the driveway.

An expert witness estimated Ms Morgan had lost about a litre of blood and the significant injury or injuries showed the victim would “be at the scene, they would not have disappeared” and been able to walk off.

Mr Rowe said Ruttley’s evidence was confusing and showed a story made up.

“This is a man charged with murder, a man who had almost two years to remember what happened on those two fateful days,” he told the jury.

Ruttley has been in custody since he was arrested by Oxley detectives in Dubbo on December 21, 2015, and charged with murder.

The story Heartbreaking: the plea to find Johann’s body | Video, gallery first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.

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