Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Saturday, May 25, 2013


            On this date, May 25, 2012, Brenna Morgan, a Sunday school teacher and cross-country runner, was found dead, just five days after graduating from Seaman High School in Topeka, Kansas. In loving memory of her, we, the VFFDP, will dedicate two Prayers from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer to her and her loved ones. We will post two news sources about her first.

Walmart worker charged with raping and murdering missing 18-year-old homecoming queen
  • Dustin Leftwich, 21, could face the death penalty if convicted of capital murder
  • Brenna Morgart was found dead in a field after being raped and mowed down by a car on May 25
  • The sports star and Sunday school teacher had graduated from Seaman High School in the Topeka, Kansas, just five days before her tragic death
PUBLISHED: 03:42 GMT, 23 November 2012 | UPDATED: 11:16 GMT, 23 November 2012

Killed: A 21-year-old Walmart attendant has been charged with raping and murdering homecoming queen Brenna Morgart, pictured

A 21-year-old Walmart attendant has been charged with raping and murdering a Kansas homecoming queen then dumping her body in a field.

Dustin Leftwich could face the death penalty if convicted of capital murder in the slaying of 18-year-old Brenna Morgart.

The Topeka man was initially charged with premeditated first-degree murder but the charge was upgraded on Wednesday after new evidence came to light, which added rape to his long list of indictments.

Ms Morgart, a Sunday school teacher and cross-country runner, was found dead on May 25, just five days after graduating from Seaman High School.

Her family reported her missing at around 3.45pm when she failed to return after going on a jog about 10am. 

Police said she was killed after being struck by a car on Jennings Road, three miles from where her body was found.

Besides the murder and rape charges, Mr Leftwich is also charged with the aggravated kidnapping of Ms Morgart, aggravated battery and misdemeanor reporting false information tied to the vehicular accident in connection with her death.

He has pleaded not guilty to the kidnapping and murder charges, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

If Mr Leftwich is convicted of capital murder, a jury would decide whether to recommend the death penalty. The judge would make the final decision on whether to sentence Mr Leftwich to death or to life in prison without parole.

After Wednesday's hearing, District Attorney Chad Taylor told the Capital-Journal that his office decided to file the capital murder charge 'when (it) received further results in the investigation.' He didn't elaborate on what those results were.

On July 16, the judge had ruled prosecutors could conduct DNA testing on potential evidence.
The evidence included possible seminal fluid and blood found on underwear, a rape kit, and finger swipe marks on the inside of a vehicle trunk.

Mr Leftwich is also facing an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge stemming from a separate incident on June 29, 2011 in which he allegedly ran down a 14-year-old girl with his car. 

In 2009, he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl and had 10 days left on his probation when he was arrested in the slaying of Ms Morgart.

Mr Leftwich lives at home with his parents and sister and worked at Walmart for about a month before being arrested, earning $286 a week. He will next appear in court on January 10.

‘18 Great Years’: Brenna Leanne Morgart (1994-2012)

This article was originally published in the Topeka Metro Voice, June 2012 edition.
‘Her Death Has Resurrected All These Hearts’

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)

“I have had 18 great years,” she wrote in her journal.
“The most important goal I made was to show kindness and love to those around me every day.” With these words a young woman whose earthly life was cut short penned an enviable philosophy of life. In a few short years, she was a:

• Homecoming queen
• Honor student
• Singer
• Musician
• Writer
• Athlete
• Child of God

The shocking hit-and-run death of Brenna Leanne Morgart, 18, rocked a community over Memorial Day weekend in Topeka. Morgart came face to face with Jesus May 25 as she jogged along the 6600 block of Jennings Road. Northland Christian Church worship leader Mitch Langley and Brad Barr sang a musical tribute they wrote to open the memorial service. The title of the song is “We Wait.”

“Along an old dusty road, we’ll never be the same,
Seeking Jesus with all our heart we’re asking in your name.

“And we wait and we cry,
But we know she’s alive.
And we wait and ask why,
But we know she’s alive.

“For the Father has prepared a place for her.
He said, ‘Well done my good and faithful girl,’
And we know she’s in the arms of her Savior.

“Along an old dusty road, we’ll never be the same.
And we don’t quite understand your ways, Lord,
But we love You the same.”

Her father, Dennis, said she was ready.
“She prepared for the coming of the Bridegroom,” he said. “She went into the banquet to the praise and glory of the Lord.”

From Friday afternoon, when reports first went out that Morgart was missing, until Wednesday, when she was laid to rest, a community banded together to mourn her loss, but also to celebrate her life on earth and her new life with Jesus. Friends and family began gathering at Northland Christian Church, 3102 N.W. Topeka Blvd., late Friday night to pray and comfort one another.

During the visitation hours, from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 29, hundreds thronged the church, as the line inched toward the entrance. A line of children, teens and adults weaved around the south side of the building, across the parking lot and back toward the tennis courts. Church members with pins that said, “May I help you?” brought little cups of water for the thirsty travellers.

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water,” Jesus said in John 7:38. The spiritual water flowed freely along with the literal water. A woman handing out little purple ribbons for visitors to pin on their clothing held for a long time a teenage girl pouring out grief deeper than words. Yet, after the memorial service on Wednesday, May 30, many smiled after sharing highlights of Morgart’s life.

“Her death has resurrected all these hearts,” Jordie Thonen said.

“She was like this bright light that just shined,” Kristi Langley said of Morgart. “I just hope her light continues to shine.” Kristi is married to worship leader Mitch.

In the old sanctuary, next to Morgart’s graduation gown and Seaman High School band uniform, Kristi displayed a drawing of floral patterns done with black and multi-colored felt-tipped pens. She said the drawing reminded her of Morgart, “because it was so colorful, just like her,” she said.

Northland Pastor R.D. Cogswell said it was an “amazing journey to see the love of a community and a church come together.” Cogswell told the Capital-Journal this included “bringing (the family) food, hugging them or crying with them.”

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) And the Lord’s spirit was present to comfort on Wednesday.

“She would not want us to not have a good time,” Cogswell said.

They came together to “navigate through grief and pain but also find healing in the memories and the gift of her life,” Cogswell said. The church, the Seaman community and the Word of God was what was getting them through, he said.

“God doesn’t make all things happen, but there is a purpose for everything,” Cogswell told the crowd some estimated at 1,200 to 1,500, filling two rooms, one receiving the talk by camera.

Cogswell said he was touched by the way Morgart, a high school student, helped his homesick daughter Caitlin, 13, when she was in the fourth or fifth grade, stay at an all-night church camp event. He said he understood Morgart moved her sleeping bag next to Caitlin, ministered to her, sang to her and stroked her hair until she thought she could stay the rest of the night.

Dennis, Morgart’s father said the family found out a lot about their daughter and sister that they did not know before. One of the gifts she gave her family was a page in her journal listing all the things she was thankful for the day she died. The list included “allergy medicine, Chapstick, hairdressers, cook books, sunshine, sunscreen, being raised the way I was, evenings at home” and “today.” The audience could see the word “today” had an exclamation point and a heart beside it.

“She made the most of every day,” Cogswell said. “She made the most of today. She would want you to live your life to the full.”

Cogswell read the eulogies Barb and brother, Reid, had written.

Reid wrote about Morgart’s desire to be an elementary school teacher and said she didn’t know what a good teacher she was. He said that even in her death he learned about the promise that “one day I get to be in heaven with Brenna. The most important lesson she taught me was you only get to be there when you die. Every day I can say I am thankful I am one day closer to being with Brenna.”

Barb wrote, “God knew about Friday. Today I can say God is in control. Please don’t go home with a hopeless sense of loss. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Brenna.”

Dennis, and sister, Arianna, spoke for themselves. Arianna cried and laughed through her Brenna stories, including one about tying a camera around the cat’s neck and losing the parts as the cat ran around the house and down the stairs.

She told another one about a “physical altercation” with her sister and shared a few of her sister’s favorite quotes. She said a sister was like having a “built-in best friend,” and finally, “I’ll always miss her – and I’ll always try to love like she did.”

Dennis was emotional when he read something his daughter wrote: “My dad is my hero. He loves me, and he knows what’s best for me.” He said he struggled for words to describe the gratitude he felt for the “unbelievable outpouring of love for our family in a time of need.”

He said he believed that “God was with her 100 percent throughout the things that happened on Friday. I will not believe anything else.”

Cogswell stressed that what was special about Morgart was Jesus living within her and batted plastic balls into the audience to show how Morgart lived her life.

“She swung for the fences every day,” he said. “She didn’t let any pitches go by.” He said that the reason Morgart touched everyone’s life so much was because on Aug. 8, 2004, she made Jesus Christ her Lord and Savior and followed him in baptism. He said everyone there could know what Morgart knew by doing the same thing.

Dozens of cars had signs that said “WWBD,” or “What would Brenna do?” Cogswell said more important was, “What would Brenna want?” and emphasized that she would want everybody to know Jesus the way that she did, and that they could today by accepting him as Lord and Savior.

Before closing, Cogswell preached that we were all sinners but that God gave his Son to save sinners, and invited the audience to talk to someone before they left if they had never accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

“There’s comfort in knowing where she is and how to get there,” Cogswell said. “She would never change where she is today, but we have the gift of choosing where we will be eternally,” he said.
Some of Brenna’s favorite Scriptures:

• Ecclesiastes 3
• Ephesians 3:20
• 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
• Psalm 34:18
• Psalm 37:4
• Isaiah 40:11
• Romans 8:31-32
• Revelations 7:17


Leftwich gets life without parole in Morgart murder
Goal-oriented victim wanted kids, pets, house in the country
Posted: February 15, 2013 - 11:07am

Dustin Leftwich was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing 18-year-old Brenna Morgart, an honors student whose life’s goals were established to the point of having selected names for the six children she hoped to have someday.

When asking Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Kingfisher to impose the life term without parole and other maximum prison terms, District Attorney Chad Taylor called Morgart “everything a parent could hope for: intelligent, beautiful, sweet, caring, giving and kind-hearted.”

Leftwich, 21, pleaded guilty to capital murder Jan. 10, which took the death penalty off the table.
But imposing the life sentence without parole, Kingfisher told Leftwich, means "you will awaken each day with nothing to look forward to, except endless repetition, restriction, regimentation and isolation."

The judge told him he wouldn't feel a cool breeze in the hot sun, and he never again would be free to drive along a country road on a beautiful day.

Leftwich showed little emotion during sentencing, though he smiled slightly upon hearing that Brenna already had chosen the names of her children. Leftwich chose to not speak.

Arianna Morgart, Brenna's sister, said the sisters planned to be each others' maids of honor.
After Brenna's death, Arianna found a long "bucket list" among her sister's things.

"She wanted to run a marathon, visit exotic places, and have a happy house full of kids and pets," Arianna said. "Now none of that can ever happen."

Her father, Dennis Morgart, said his daughter planned and set goals, even to the point of naming future children. Brenna knew that whoever her husband would be, he would be perfect, her father said.

Her father told Leftwich his religious daughter would want her killer to know that no sin is unforgiveable if he seeks God's forgiveness.

Dennis Morgart also said he forgives Leftwich. Brenna also is the daughter of Barb Morgart.

For the Morgarts, knowing that God "was with Brenna when she was dumped into that creek to die, knowing God himself had not abandoned her but rather escorted her into glory, gives us a peace we can't explain, a peace which surpasses all understanding," her father said.

Dennis Morgart thanked the Shawnee County Sheriff's Office, including Detectives Kevin Kasl, Dustin Carlatt and Jim Mummey, Detective Sgt. Phil McKay, Cpl. Scott Wanamaker, and Deputy Stephanie Dicken for their work on the case.

Leftwich pleaded guilty to seven charges tied to the Morgart homicide and the striking with a car of an unidentified 14-year-old girl in 2011. Morgart drowned when she was thrown into a creek after being hit by a car driven by Leftwich.

After the sentencing, R.D. Cogswell, pastor of Northland Christian Church, said the Morgarts are "very pleased to have the sentences consecutive and that he was prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Cogswell spoke for the Morgarts, who are members of Northland Christian Church.

For the Morgarts to offer forgiveness publicly to Leftwich was a big step for the family, Cogswell said. The Morgarts hope Leftwich will turn his life over to Jesus Christ, the pastor said.

During the Jan. 10 plea, Taylor said Morgart was jogging the morning of May 25 in the 6900 block of N.W. Jennings when Leftwich deliberately struck her with his car, then forced her into the trunk, and drove her to a creek four miles away in the 6600 block of N.W. Huxman, where he hit her with a tire iron and tried to rape her.

Morgart was alive when she was thrown into the creek and drowned.

At 7 p.m. on May 25, deputies got a phone call from Leftwich’s mother, who told them her son admitted hitting a female pedestrian, then dumped her body in a creek.

At 7:31 p.m., Morgart’s body was found in the 6600 block of N.W. Huxman.

Morgart died five days after she graduated magna cum laude from Seaman High School. She had been a member of the school’s cross country team.

On June 29, 2011, a 14-year-old girl was walking in the 6200 block of N.W. 70th when Leftwich approached her driving a car at 20 mph. As the girl jumped off the road, she was struck on the shin by the car.

The girl ran home through a field.

At the end of the sentencing, Dennis Morgart approached the parents of Leftwich, spoke to them and gave each a purple plastic ball symbolizing a story he told about his daughter's softball career.
          As a number of us, VFFDP are born again Christians, we will be commending two prayers from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as she was a Christian:

A Prayer for All Conditions of Men:
O God, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for thy holy Church universal; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally, we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; [especially those for whom our prayers are desired]; that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

Burial of the Dead 1662:
ALMIGHTY God, with whom do live the spirits of them that depart hence in the Lord, and with whom the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity: We give thee hearty thanks, for that it hath pleased thee to deliver this our brother out of the miseries of this sinful world; beseeching thee that it may please thee, of thy gracious goodness, shortly to accomplish the number of thine elect, and to hasten thy kingdom; that we, with all those that are departed in the true faith of thy holy Name, may have our perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, in thy eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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