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On March 3, 2001, two-year-old Ricky Morehouse III and his twin, Reggy, were visiting their mother, Rachel Page (now Rachel Luft) for the weekend at her home in the tiny community of Kent, Iowa. The boys’ dad, Rick Morehouse, Jr., had custody of the toddlers, and they resided with him and Rick’s wife, Robin, about two hours away in Harlan, Iowa.
Despite being on the Department of Human Services’ Child Abuse Registry, Rachel was allowed unsupervised visits with the twins.
On the night of March 3, a fire broke out in the bathroom on the second level of Rachel’s home. Rachel managed to get Reggy to safety, but Ricky was trapped inside. Firefighters found his tiny body after the fire had been completely extinguished.
State Fire Marshal, David Linkletter, ruled it arson. This was not due to faulty wiring or blown fuses. As the investigation continued, a startling picture of what really happened came to light.
The fire had been set in the home’s upstairs bathroom, and state investigators believed the accelerant had been poured onto Little Ricky and the bathroom floor before being ignited. The bathroom door had been shut where the toddler could not escape, resulting in a fire burning so fast and hot that the fiery bathroom floor gave way and fell into the dining room below, where Little Ricky’s body was later found (IowaColdCases.org by Judy Ewing).
Ricky had been burned alive. He did not die of smoke inhalation. His twin, Reggy, suffered no injuries, and investigators theorized that he was taken outside before the fire started. His clothing and body had no detectable smells or traces of smoke.
Rachel claimed the power to her house went out twice prior to the fire. After the first time, she fixed the fuses and restored the power. But after the 2nd outage occurred at around 10 p.m., instead of fixing the power again, she decided to go clean out her car that was parked in the driveway.
The temperature outside was slightly below freezing.
None of Rachel’s neighbors complained of power outages.
Rachel also said that while she was cleaning out her car, flames shot out of the upstairs bathroom window. She ran into the home, found Reggy at the top of the L-shaped stairway, and carried him out of the house. She returned for Ricky, but could not locate him.
A neighbor called 911.
Later, officials asked Rachel to take a lie detector test after discovering she had burned fingertips and slightly singed hair. She agreed, took the polygraph and failed.
Even though Rachel had visible signs of being the one who started the fire, was the only adult home at the time of the fire, and failed a polygraph, she was never arrested for this crime. Nobody has been arrested for this crime. The reason? The same old one – not enough evidence.
It’s sad to think Reggy, who just turned 16 in January, had to grow up without his twin, and probably has no memory of him either. There is an injustice in that as well.
To read the full story of what happened, please visit Iowa Cold Cases.