A foster mother once accused of having Munchausen by proxy who used to run a home for disabled children is being investigated by a grand jury, after being accused of abuse in lawsuits and official reports for years.
Michelle Morris, 80, ran the Michelle Morris Home for Disabled Children with her husband Larry Kerin. They were licensed by the state to take in six kids at a time. She was paid up to $6,000 per month per child.
But according to past lawsuits filed by the families of some of the kids, and a report by Orange County officials in 2002, Morris ran a home where there were major concerns over the kids’ wellbeing.
She surrendered her license in 2019, three weeks after the death of 17-year-old Diane Ramirez, a wheelchair-bound girl who died after vomiting blood while in Morris’ care.
Her family had placed her in the home temporarily while finding full-time care for her.
One of the most disturbing allegations is that she coaxed her adopted son, Ryan, into marrying a trucker, 18 years his senior, by telling him he’d get a cell phone of he did.
Ryan’s biological family fought the adoption but it was finalized in 2002 after Morris told the court his grandmother – who would have looked after him – didn’t adequately understand his disabled needs.
Michelle Morris, 80, ran the Michelle Morris Home for Disabled Children with her husband Larry Kerin. They were licensed by the state to take in six kids at a time. She was paid up to $6,000 per month per child. Since the 1990s, she has been accused of abuse and now, there are reports that a grand jury is investigating her for criminal activity
In 2014, a wedding was held in Morris’ backyard, between Ryan, who was 20 at the time, and Sean Spicer, the trucker, who was 38.
Ryan, according to the reports, has the mental capacity of a kindergartener and during the ceremony yelled out: ‘Baptize in the name of Jesus.’
His new husband corrected him: ‘It’s not a baptism. It’s a wedding.’
Now, The Mercury News reports that a grand jury has been tasked with looking into the allegations against Morris.
Local officials will neither confirm nor deny that an investigation is underway and Morris has not commented on the claims either. Klein and Morris started receiving complaints in the 1990s.
According to a 2019 Orange County Register article, Klein abandoned a nine-year-old non-verbal child at a social services office in 1997 because the couple hadn’t been paid by the state to look after him for two months.
Two years later, Morris allegedly took a child in for surgery without the knowledge of the child’s biologicals parents, a report by the Orange County Regional Center said.
Another disturbing report was in 2001 when a male staff member was allegedly found naked in bed with a female child. No evidence was found to support the claim.
In 2002, the regional center said it had ‘serious concerns’ about the ‘quality of care’ at the home and it claimed Morris suffered Munchausen by proxy, where she imagined illnesses among the kids.
Michelle and her husband adopted Ryan Morris, a boy they took in when he was a young child, in 2002. In 2014, when he was 20, he married Sean Spicer, a trucker who is 18 years his senior. Their wedding is shown. During the ceremony, Ryan – who has the mental capacity of a kindergartener – yelled: ‘Baptize in the name of Jesus!’
Diane Ramirez died in April 2019 after being placed in Michelle Morris’ care. She had cerebral palsy and was vomiting blood but no one called 911 for eight hours. She died in the hospital
She successfully sued for defamation and received a payout of $750,000. The city didn’t admit guilt, and the Mercury News reports they avoided putting disabled kids through a trial by settling.
Before opening her home, Michelle worked as a social worker. She also released a novel in 1982 about an incest relationship between a father and daughter
Ryan went to live with Morris in 1997 and in 2002, she finalized his adoption after telling the court that his grandmother and biological relatives weren’t able to care for him properly.
His grandmother and his twin brother, who is not disabled, had fought it.
Ryan now lives with his husband in a trailer with Spicer’s parents, according to the Register.
They met when he was 17 and Spicer was 35 but Spicer insisted in a deposition that was part of the families’ battle that they waited until Ryan was 18 until they began a romantic relationship.
He also insists that Ryan knew what he was doing when they got married, saying: ‘Ryan knows who he loves.’
In 2015, Morris stepped down as Ryan’s conservator and she was replaced by his husband.
But she kept caring for other kids.
In 2019, Diane Ramirez went to stay with her after her parents separated. She wanted to go and live with her father again, according to a lawsuit filed by her parents afterward her death on April 6.
She was placed in the care of Michelle Morris by Riverside County.
On April 2, four days before her death, she went to the hospital because she had been vomiting. She was released and Michelle Morris was told to call 911 immediately if she saw Diane vomiting blood.
This is an interior of one of the rooms at the home Morris ran in Murrieta, California, before surrendering her license in April after the death of 17-year-old Diane Ramirez
Before running the home in Murieta, California, Morris ran one out of this property in Santa Ana. She moved county after being accused by local officials of having Munchausen by proxy syndrome
On April 5, Diane saw her father and was fine but that night at 11.30pm, started vomiting ‘dark brown liquid’, according to an autopsy carried out after her death.
Morris did not call 911 or take her to the hospital.
Instead, she told staffers that Diane was sick because her father had given her solid food – which he wasn’t meant to, because she had a feeding tube
Eight hours later, an ambulance was called to the home and Diane died in the hospital. Three weeks later, Michelle Morris surrendered her license to care for disabled children.
Diane’s mother and father filed a lawsuit last year against the county for putting their daughter in Morris’ care.
At the time, her mother said: ‘What kind of monsters are these people to allow a young girl to endure such pain?’
Before opening her home, Michelle worked as a social worker. She also released a novel in 1982 about an incest relationship between a father and daughter.
Titled ‘If I Should Die Before I Wake’, it became an off-Broadway play.
She has not commented on the public criticisms of her care of Diane but in the past has vehemently denied ever mistreating any of the children in her care, including Ryan.
She said in response to his biological family’s claim that she didn’t let them see him that whenever she did allow it, he would return to her distressed and prone to seizures.