News Briefing

Police find Morris file

The Philadelphia Police Department has located the Nizah Morris homicide file, which was missing for about eight years, and officials say a copy will be supplied to the Police Advisory Commission.

Morris, 47, was a transgender woman found on a Center City street with a fatal head wound shortly after receiving a courtesy ride from Philadelphia police.

She died two days later, on Dec. 24, 2002, from a fractured skull.

The PAC, a city watchdog agency for possible police misconduct, is investigating the incident.

In January 2008, police reported the file was missing, prompting the PAC to reopen the case — and to review relevant Morris records at the District Attorney’s office.

The previous year, the PAC had closed the case after issuing a report clearing the police of any responsibility in Morris’ death, but recommending additional police training and guidelines for courtesy rides.

Last month, a newly appointed PAC sent letters to Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and D.A. Seth Williams, seeking records related to the Morris case.

Francis T. Healy, legal advisor to Ramsey, responded on behalf of the police commissioner in a letter to the PAC dated Jan. 24.

The letter stated the original file has been located at the city’s Archives Unit.

“It appears the file was delivered to the Archives Unit, but not cataloged or documented as being received,” Healy stated in the letter. “Accordingly, it was sitting in an intake bin all this time. I honestly can’t say where the actual breakdown occurred.”

Healy couldn’t be reached for comment.

Chuck Volz, an openly gay PAC member, said the commission is eager to thoroughly examine the file, along with other relevant information, before issuing another report.

“Finding the file isn’t the beginning of the end in this case, but I would say it’s the end of the beginning,” he told PGN this week.

Ronda B. Goldfein, another PAC member, said the PAC continues to seek information contained within the D.A.’s homicide file on the Morris case.

“While I wouldn’t want to speculate as to what happened with the police department’s lost file, we’re grateful that Commissioner Ramsey is taking this matter seriously,” Goldfein told PGN. “The fact that they found the original file is good news. We’ll review that file once we get it, and proceed accordingly.”

— Tim Cwiek

Senior housing meeting

The William Way LGBT Community Center will host a town-hall meeting next week to allow the community to further explore the proposed LGBT-friendly senior-housing program.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10 in the center’s ballroom, 1315 Spruce St.

The center’s staff and board of directors will present an update on the next steps in the decision-making process on the proposed project, as well as any accomplishments since the last community meeting on the subject in the fall.

The senior-housing program would allow for low-income residences in a building attached to the current center.

For more information, call 215-732-2220.

Wilcox memorial

A memorial will be held for local philanthropist Jack Wilcox at 4 p.m. Feb. 12 in the ballroom of the William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.

The potluck dinner will commemorate the life of the longtime center volunteer and donor who died Jan. 19 of mesothelioma.

Among his contributions to the local community, Wilcox established a $100,000 endowment at the Philadelphia Foundation for the center.

For more information, call 215-732-2220.

— Jen Colletta