Crime

U.S. Army vet accused of human trafficking found dead in Myrtle Beach hotel

Army vet accused of human trafficking in Conway denies claims

A man accused of forcing a woman in Conway to have sex to pay off debts denied the human trafficking charges. Jason Morrison was in Horry County court on Wednesday for a bond hearing ahead of his trial.
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A man accused of forcing a woman in Conway to have sex to pay off debts denied the human trafficking charges. Jason Morrison was in Horry County court on Wednesday for a bond hearing ahead of his trial.

A U.S. Army veteran accused of human trafficking in Conway was found dead at a Myrtle Beach hotel Thursday morning.

There were no signs of foul play or suicide in Jason Morrison’s death, according to his attorney Jarrett Bouchette and Horry County deputy coroner Michelle McSpadden.

McSpadden said Morrison was found dead at the Darlington Inn on Ocean Boulevard. An autopsy is planned to determine a cause of death.

Bouchette said Morrison, 33, had no known health issues and they are looking at medication Morrison was given while at J. Reuben Long Detention Center as a possible link.

Morrison died hours after bonding out of J. Reuben on a human trafficking charge. According to jail records, he posted bail around 6 p.m. He was in Horry County court Wednesday morning when Judge Benjamin Culbertson set bail at $15,000.

Horry County police investigators say Morrison forced a person to engage in sexual acts for his own profit between 2014 and 2017. According to an arrest warrant, men came to a Holly Lane home in the Conway area to have sex with the victim. The men would negotiate a price with Morrison before engaging in sex, police said.

The victim — listed as an 18-year-old in a police report — was rarely compensated, police said. When she was paid, it was with crack cocaine, according to the warrant.

Morrison also forced the victim to have sex with others to pay off his debts, according to the warrant.

Bouchette said Wednesday the victim faces burglary and kidnapping charges and is currently in jail. When Myrtle Beach police questioned the woman about the burglary, she then claimed to be the victim of human trafficking. Bouchette said his client denied the allegations made by the victim.

Proving innocence

Several members of Morrison’s family attended Wednesday’s hearing and planned to help Morrison return home to Colonial Beach, Virginia, ahead of trial. Those plans obviously have changed.

“We’re distraught,” his stepfather Emerson Brown said, “because he should have never been there in the first place.”

Brown said Morrison lived in Virginia when some of the alleged crime happened. The victim also was in Pennsylvania jails, during some of that time as well, he said.

“I can prove his innocence,” Brown said.

The family said Morrison earned a Purple Heart while helping two people after an explosion in Afghanistan. That led them to question why someone believed the vet would save two people, only to then put the alleged victim’s life in danger.

Morrison had substance-abuse issues and was disabled, his family said. He loved National Geographic, learning how the world worked and had a heart of gold, Brown said.

“He just wanted to help everybody,” Brown said.

Morrison should have never been arrested on only hearsay from the alleged victim, his family said. Brown said he has no love lost for the county and it is “disheartening” knowing they will never prove that Morrison was innocent.

“My heart is black to the county,” he said.

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Alex Lang is the True Crime reporter for The Sun News covering the legal system and how crime impacts local residents. He says letting residents know if they are safe is a vital role of a newspaper. Alex has covered crime in Detroit, Iowa, New York City, West Virginia and now Horry County.
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