DRAPER, Utah (ABC4 News) – It was a parent’s worst nightmare re-lived.
Four years ago, a 5-year-old was taken from her bedroom by an intruder.
The girl’s father chased Troy Morley down and saved his daughter. Morley was convicted of child kidnapping and sent to prison for six years and up to life.
Morley claimed he broke up with his wife and was distraught. He turned to drugs. That night in November of 2014 Morley said he heard his wife voice urging him to find a church. He said he climbed over a wall and came across a house with its sliding door partially open. Morley went inside and found the little girl’s bedroom.
“I remember talking to the girl and asking her if she would help me because I didn’t want to get shot and if she would help me,” Morley told the hearing officer.
In the same hearing room at the prison was Stephanie Edson, the child’s mother.
“I heard her voice and immediately by an act of God woke up and immediately knew there was a problem,” said Edson.
She said she listened and heard sounds that were not her daughter’s footsteps. Later after the incident, she relayed their conversation about what happened inside the little girl’s bedroom.
“He then woke her up, turned on every light and began talking to her about needing to find her parents and those were her words,” said Edson. “He was going to help her parents.”
At the request of Edson, Morley was ordered out of the room when she offered her testimony to a hearing officer. Morley was escorted into another room but was able to listen to the audio of her statements.
“He then proceeded to open the closet and go through her dresses and her personal belongings,” Edson said. “He opened her drawers and went through her clothing as well.”
Morley left with the 5-year-old, but Edson was already urging her husband that something was wrong.
“As you can imagine the horror any parent would feel if their child was taken from their home,” she said.
During Morley’s statements to the hearing officer, he recalled talking with the girl outside the house.
“I remember her telling me on the sidewalk just make sure I get back by 2,” Morley said.
By this time, the child’s step-father was outside and spotted Morley with their child.
“He then saw Mr. Morley carrying our 5-year-old daughter towards a field, to a remote area,” she said. “Not to civilization but towards a field with trees and tall grass.”
She said her husband had to plead with Morley to give their daughter back. He did but then Morley took off only to be arrested later.
At Thursday’s hearing, Morley blamed everything on his inability to handle rejection from his former wife. He said that’s when he turned to drugs.
“Methamphetamines are pretty bad,” Morley said. “I was six days up with no sleep and I was distraught.”
He offered a tearful apology to the parents. But Edson said it’s not easy to move past this.
“The emotional and mental anguish that this has taken on our entire family is life-changing and long-lasting,” she said.
She said Morley should remain in prison until her daughter becomes an adult.
No decision was made on Morley’s future. The entire Utah Board of Pardons will review Thursday’s testimony and decide how much longer Morley will remain in prison.