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

Published: Updated: 8 comments

DES MOINES, Iowa — On March 3, 2001, Ricky Morehouse III and his twin, Reggy, 2, visited their mother, Rachel Page Luft, for the weekend at her Kent home. The boys’ father, Rick Morehouse, Jr., had custody of the twins, and they resided with him and Morehouse’s wife, Robin Morehouse, two hours away in Harlan.

Despite being on the Department of Human Services Child Abuse Registry, Luft was allowed unsupervised visits with the twins.

On the night of March 3, 2001, a fire broke out in the bathroom on Luft’s home’s second level. Luft managed to get Reggy to safety, but Ricky was trapped inside. Firefighters found his tiny body after they had fully extinguished the fire.

State Fire Marshal, David Linkletter, ruled the fire arson. It was not due to faulty wiring or blown fuses. As the investigation continued, a startling picture of what happened appeared.

Jody Ewing of IowaColdCases.org writes, “The fire had been set in the home’s upstairs bathroom, and state investigators believed the accelerant had been poured onto both Little Ricky and the bathroom floor before being ignited and Ricky set afire.”

Ricky Morehouse: photo of Rachel Luft's home
Rachel Luft’s home/IowaColdCases.org

Ricky had been burned alive. He did not die of smoke inhalation. His twin, Reggy, suffered no injuries, and investigators theorized that someone had taken him outside before the fire started. His clothing and body had no detectable smells or traces of smoke.

Ricky Morehouse: Rachael Luft (Page) today. Photo credit: Facebook
Rachael Luft/Facebook

Luft claimed the power to her house went out twice before the fire. After the first time, she fixed the fuses and restored the power. But after the 2nd outage at around 10 p.m., she decided to clean her car in the driveway instead of resolving the power again.

The temperature outside was slightly below freezing. None of Luft’s neighbors reported power outages.

While cleaning her car, Luft said 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. She returned for Ricky but could not locate him. A neighbor called 911.

Later, officials asked Luft 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 Luft had visible signs of being the firestarter, was the only adult home during the fire, and failed a polygraph, police never charged her with the crime. In fact, police have not arrested anyone connected to the arson fire. The reason? The same old one – not enough evidence.

In 2018, police ruled Ricky’s death a homicide after previously ruling it accidental.

To read the full story, please visit Iowa Cold Cases.

8 comments

casey March 23, 2016 - 6:15 AM

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.

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truecrimediva March 24, 2016 - 7:41 AM

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!

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Berlin Baum December 28, 2015 - 12:40 AM

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.

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Kristen December 23, 2015 - 12:32 PM

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.

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Erindira July 1, 2015 - 6:07 PM

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?

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truecrimediva July 2, 2015 - 1:31 PM

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.

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Manda April 27, 2015 - 6:09 PM

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

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truecrimediva April 27, 2015 - 10:47 PM

I completely agree!

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