The 2001 Death of Two-Year-Old Ricky Morehouse III

Reggy (left) and Ricky (right) Morehouse
Reggy (left) and Ricky (right) Morehouse

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 ( by Judy Ewing).

Rachel's home. Photo credit:
Rachel’s home. Photo credit:

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.

Rachael Luft (Page) today. Photo credit: Facebook
Rachael Luft today. Photo credit: Facebook

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.

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Author: truecrimediva

True crime blogger

  • casey

    There’s been quite the conversation going on over on Iowa Cold Cases entry about this case. Ricky’s step-mom has posted several times, shedding some more light on this murder.
    This makes me so freaking angry. It’s so obvious that this disguising woman killed this little boy and the thought of her out there living her pathetic life makes my blood boil. I feel certain she would be convicted if they pressed charges.

    • Hmm, I’ll have to check the site out again, thanks! Yes, this case makes me angry, too! To see her living her life instead of Ricky is beyond disgusting!

  • Berlin Baum

    Wow , What a huge piece of shit this thing is. I don’t know what everyone feels about the afterlife but if she doesn’t suffer in this life she will in the next. I truly believe that!! Rest in peace little angel.

  • Kristen

    Anyone ever think that she might have done it to hurt her ex? Almost a woman in white/Weeping woman theory. “Screw you Rick you take my kids I take one of them from you.” Adding on to that, Ricky who shares the name with the dad is the one who passed, and he was a 3rd, now who is going to carry on the family tradition? Who decides, instead of restoring power on a chilly march night, when you have 2 children in the home that might be afraid of dark and need their nightlights, to go clean out your car instead. I am really shocked that they did not pin the mother on this.

  • Erindira

    Keep in mind that polygraph results cannot be used at trial. The District Attorneys have to look at the whole picture to decide if they have a prosecutable case, unfortunately it seems they felt they could not bring this case to trial.
    Just curious TCD, do you have any guesses or info as to motive for the fire? Was there insurance or some financial gain in the death of the child and/or the property?

    • Hi there! Thanks for commenting! Yes, I am aware that polygraphs are inadmissible in court, however, when a person fails multiple ones, that is usually a red flag to police that this person is lying.

      One of the theories is that the mother did not love Ricky and wanted him out of her life. She was also an abuser so it could have been a situation that got out of control. Ricky was found in the dining room which was directly under the bathroom which is where the fire started. Police believe he was in the bathroom and set on fire.

  • Manda

    Seriously? That’s not enough evidence to arrest that thing?! Our justice system is screwed up all around.