A Mesa County teacher's aide and newspaper columnist is behind bars after federal investigators say they found thousands of images of child pornography on his computer. Neighbors are in shock to hear it happened in their backyard.
63–year–old Michael Morrow is facing several charges for possession of child pornography. Investigators say Morrow admitted to downloading around 13,000 images from the web.
According to the arrest affidavit, Michael Morrow told federal investigators he had been downloading child porn for years and admitted to viewing and storing the photos on his home computer.
With a search warrant, federal agents raided his home and seized his hard drive. Neighbors watched and wondered what was going on until 11 News broke the news to them today.
"You always see these things going on and know they're happening but not in your own backyard," Charles Dunlap told 11 News on Wednesday.
Dunlap lives across the street from Morrow.
"I'm absolutely in shock."
Dunlap says he saw investigators at his neighbor's home Tuesday night.
"I wondered what was goin on."
When Dunlap read the disturbing details in the arrest affidavit he said he's glad Morrow is locked up.
"I'm just glad someone found out," said Dunlap.
The affidavit describes images of children in lewd poses and explicit situations. Morrow told investigators he downloaded the pictures of toddlers and teens from the web and that's how federal agents tracked him down.
The 63–year–old worked as a columnist for the Grand Junction Free Press and a copy editor for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel before he got a job at Grand Mesa Middle School as a teacher's aide earlier this month.
Spokesman Jeff Kirtland says the School District does background checks on every employee.
"If there are indicators or histories that are questionable, especially working with children, we will not hire staff," Kirtland told 11 News on Wednesday.
When 11 News pulled the CBI background check, Morrow had no criminal history or red flags.
"It's not an easy thing for anyone. The district is surprised by something like this, parents are surprised."
Kirtland says Morrow only worked for the district for three weeks and resigned after he was arrested Tuesday night.
As Morrow sits in jail waiting to face a judge, the mail was left unanswered on his doorstep Wednesday and neighbors wonder when he'll come home.
"If you look at the house all decorated for Halloween, it's a sad situation," Dunlap told 11 News.
If Morrow is found guilty, Charles Dunlap believes he will get what he deserves.
"He'll pay whether in the court system or when the good Lord calls him home."
As of Wednesday, Morrow remained in the Mesa County Jail without bond.
Wednesday afternoon a judge advised him of his charges.
Officials at the U.S. District Attorney's Office in Denver say federal marshalls are on the way to transport Morrow to a scheduled hearing in federal court on Monday.