Katherine Morris, a 22-year-old student about to graduate from the University of Maryland, left a final message on her iPhone:
I am SO sorry for doing this to my parents in (sic) my friends, but I don’t see myself ever being happy again. When I look at my future I don’t see anything. I don’t see kids. I don’t see a husband. I don’t see love. I don’t see happiness. don’t see a career. I just see more misery. It’s easier this way. Please don’t let him get away with what he’s done & what he’s doing. I didn’t deserve this. I couldn’t handle this. It completely depilitated (sic) me.
Katherine’s lifeless body was discovered in her car parked at Anne Arundel Community College in Hanover, Maryland at 5:30 a.m. on May 6, 2012. According to the police report, two trays of burned charcoal were on the passenger floorboard. Katherine had died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Back at Katherine’s apartment, her roommate, Michelle Harper, went into Katherine’s empty room. There she found a phone card, printed e-mails, a marriage license and a letter to Isaac Goodwin, neatly clipped together and placed on a laptop computer. In the letter to Goodwin, her husband, Katherine stated that she could not believe what he had done to her, and that this would soon be over.
Guess what? I love you
The two met at a club in February 2011. Isaac Goodwin was an Army specialist (E4) stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Katherine Morris was a junior at the University of Maryland, pursuing a degree in Family Sciences. They began dating, although their relationship was mostly phone calls and text messages. In May, Katherine baked Goodwin a birthday cake, but he never came to eat it. In June, Goodwin was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
By the summer, Katherine was unhappy about her involvement with Goodwin. She texted him the following on July 4, 2011:
I think it would be better if we just end this. I was happier when I was single. I wasn’t as lonely. I didn’t have to worry about all of the disappointment. You said you would do better, try better but you havent. Im willing to make things work only if im not the only one tryna make things work which has been the case. I meant everything I said a few Saturdays ago. I care about you deeply and I would be there for you through good and bad but that’s only if you could do the same for me and you havent. Your still the oly one I want but sometimes what we want isnt what we need. You talk a good game but fail to back it up with your actions. & a major thing is that you dont trust me and I don’t trust you and you can’t have a relationship without trust especially a long distance one. I still cant help but to feel like you have somebody else and that you never took me or us seriously. So dont be mad at me when I ignore your phone calls and texts just as you’ve done to me in my attempt to move on.
To this text, Goodwin replied, “Please call me!” and “I know u hate me, but I really need to talk to u Asap.” And on July 30, 2011, the following exchange took place:
Goodwin: Guess what?
Goodwin: I love you Kathy
Katherine: I love you too Isaac. That made me smile.
Goodwin: I can’t wait to see u
Katherine: Same here baby
On August 3, 2011, Goodwin and Katherine drove to Arlington, Virginia, where they married in front of a civil magistrate. Goodwin did not give Katherine a wedding ring. He convinced his new wife not to tell her parents about the wedding. Then he left, marriage license in hand.
Things that bother me
Michelle Harper and Katherine Morris became roommates in August 2011. Michelle was surprised to learn that Katherine had married Goodwin. In a notarized statement, Michelle said, “She had told me previously that he would act unreasonably jealous and controlling whenever she would go out to a party or not return his call or text right away.”
During the entire first semester, Michelle said, Goodwin came to see his new bride only twice. On numerous occasions Goodwin said he was coming, then cancelled his plans or simply failed to show up. “Besides Isaac not showing up, Kathy confided to me that they barely spoke,” Michelle stated. “She told me that she didn’t understand why he didn’t talk to her as much since they got married, and she felt really down and sad.”
Katherine was a full-time student, working two part-time jobs in her struggle to pay the rent each month, and disappointed in her marriage. By the end of the semester, she was both angry and despondent. On December 15, 2011, she sent Goodwin information about filing for divorce in Maryland.
Katherine suspected that Goodwin was cheating on her, but he denied it. On December 18, 2011, she sent Goodwin the following email:
Things that bother me about us/you/our relationship
- Not romantic.
- I feel like you don’t really want me. The last Time we made love you wouldn’t even kiss me.
- Controlling. I don’t mind you being the head but you are too controlling at times.
- Not a man of your word.
- The fact that you think I should tell my parents we got married myself is f***ed up especially since you never even asked them if you could marry me to begin with. The least you could do is actually be there with me to tell them.
- Double standards.
- I have yet to meet your family.
- I don’t feel comfortable enough with you to talk to you about A LOT of things so I keep a lot of stuff to myself
- Why have I never heard about your so-called “female” friends. I don’t mind you having them but why am I just now finding out that you have them.
- I still don’t know why you suddenly wanted to marry me out of the blue when the last time you had mentioned marriage you said that whoever was your next relationship was who you were going to marry even though you didn’t want to get married at that time but later on. A month or less after this you told me you wanted to get married. It confused me then and still confuses me. Why me? & why so soon? & why didn’t you ask me to marry you instead of telling me we were getting married?
- You threatening to kill me if I cheat on you.
- When you ignore me & don’t say anything.
A few days later, Katherine was convinced that Goodwin was cheating. On December 21, 2011, she sent him the following email:
I hope she’s worth it. I’ve packed up all of my stuff so it’s easier for my parents. I cut the screen out of my bedroom window. Now all I have to do is take the dive and you’ll be free from having to deal with me forever. No more me stressing you out, not trusting you, accusing you, threatening to divorce you, or anything else. You can be happy now. Till death do us part. I love you.
Rev. Marguerite Morris was concerned about her daughter. “Katherine was phenomenally focused, loving and precious,” she said. “But I knew something was wrong.” On December 22, 2011, she emailed Katherine. Her daughter’s reply was a suicide letter.
Rev. Morris was 90 minutes away. Panicked, she immediately called 911, who contacted the University of Maryland campus police. Their fast response, Rev. Morris stated, “may very well have saved my daughter’s life.”
Katherine was admitted to the Washington Adventist Hospital, and her parents rushed to be with her. That’s when they learned that Katherine had married Army Specialist Isaac Goodwin.
Goodwin, who was still in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was notified of Katherine’s hospitalization on December 23, 2011. He said he could not come to Maryland because of the military. Katherine’s parents attempted to contact Goodwin on December 24, 25 and 26. He did not respond. The parents then called the Red Cross, knowing that by doing so, Goodwin’s commanders would become aware of the situation. Finally, on December 27, 2011, Goodwin called Rev. Morris and said he was on his way to Maryland.
No spousal support
All semester long, Katherine had been struggling financially. Rev. Morris herself was a military spouse—Katherine’s father, Willie Morris, had served in the Air Force for 15 years and they had been married for 25 years. So she knew that Katherine was entitled to medical benefits and spousal support, called Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). But according to Rev. Morris, Goodwin repeatedly stated that he only received “$70 to $80 more per month” as spousal benefits, and the only way he could get benefits for Katherine was to bring her to Fort Bragg. Rev. Morris believed he was lying, and that he was probably receiving $900 per month in BAH payments.
On January 3, 2012, Rev. Morris sent a letter to Goodwin’s commanding officer at Fort Bragg, telling the whole story. She made the following points:
- To date Specialist Goodwin has never informed his spouse of any entitlement to a military ID card.
- To date Specialist Goodwin has never signed his spouse up for any medical benefits.
- To date Specialist Goodwin has received over $4,000 in spousal benefits including January 2012.
- We firmly believe that Specialist Isaac Goodwin filed for and has been receiving BAH for his wife Katherine Goodwin Morris and has failed to pass those benefits on to his spouse.
Shortly afterwards, a telephone conference call took place between Katherine, her parents, Goodwin and his commanding officers. Goodwin was then ordered by his chain of command to comply with the Army’s spousal support requirements. He didn’t do it willingly.
Five other women
Specialist Isaac Goodwin deployed to Afghanistan on March 3, 2012. Deployment is an emotional time, usually attended by the soldiers’ families. Goodwin told Katherine that he didn’t want anyone to be there—not his mother, not his family, not his wife. But Katherine followed Goodwin’s mother in Twitter, and learned that she was on her way to North Carolina to watch her son deploy.
“YOU ARE SUCH A LIAR!” Katherine texted to Goodwin. “I KNOW YOUR MOM IS ON HER WAY TO SEE YOU! WOW! YOU HATE ME THAT F**KING MUCH!”
That wasn’t the only betrayal. A few days later, Katherine hacked into Goodwin’s email account and Facebook page, and found that he was cheating on her. He was communicating with at least five other women as he traveled to Afghanistan, telling them that he loved them, missed them, and couldn’t wait to see them.
On March 9, 2012, Katherine sent the following email to all of them:
Just wondering if you all know that Isaac Goodwin is married and messing with all of you at the same time. Well now you know. I guarantee he’ll deny it. Don’t worry as soon as he get’s back from Afghanistan I’ll b divorcing him so y’all can fight over who gets to have him then. But have a blessed day ladies!
The official Mrs. Goodwin!
Marrying for financial gain
One of the other women was a member of the military who Goodwin had been dating since late 2009. She was shocked to receive Katherine’s email—especially since she and Goodwin had talked about marriage, and went to a jewelry store where she tried on rings. The woman sent Goodwin an email:
To think that you would go ahead and MARRY someone you know likes/ cares about you just for financial gain is crazy ”¦ Or should I say just plain STUPID. DUMB. And think you weren’t going to run into any problems. Not very smart Isaac.
However please know that you HURT my feelings deeply. It’s really sad that even still I feel like your Not telling me the TRUTH about everything. But maybe that’s a good thing!!!!!
Well one thing I do know to be the truth is KARMA and I’m sure you will be receiving your share very soon!
Katherine, of course had hacked Goodwin’s email, so she saw the correspondence between the woman and him. On the morning of March 10, 2012, Katherine wrote to Goodwin:
Aww she really cares about you! Doesn’t want you to get in trouble on your job but you should tell her that if she really cared and didnt want to get you in trouble she would stop sending you emails because I have printouts of every single email she’s sent you and it doesn’t look good for you on the whole frauding the government by marrying me to get BAH or on the whole you committing adultery. She’s just digging an even bigger whole for you but I do thank her for that.
That evening, Goodwin replied, apparently worried that Katherine would report him to the Army’s Inspector General. He wrote:
I am sorry. I want talk to none of them anymore. Are you going IG? I give you the divorce. Please
A month later, Katherine wrote to Goodwin that she wouldn’t go to the IG if he told her the complete truth about everything. She wrote:
I kno this will b hard 4 u since u seem 2struggle w/ bein honest&truthful but its the ONLY thing that will stop me from goin 2ig
Waiting for it to be over
On May 2, 2012, the other woman who was in the military contacted Katherine, wanting to talk about Goodwin. Katherine called the woman from the apartment that she shared with Michelle Harper. Harper could hear Katherine speaking in a low voice.
In her notarized statement, Harper recounted what happened:
Kathy told me that the woman said Isaac had told her that he was getting a divorce with Kathy and leaving her to marry this other woman. Meanwhile, Isaac had been telling Kathy at the same time that he was working things out with her and staying in the marriage. This threw Kathy for a loop. She did not know what to believe, but what she did know was that she was tired of being lied to over and over again. After our conversation, she went to her room to sleep, but I could hear her from the other side of the door crying.
Katherine posted 27 Twitter and Facebook messages over the next three days—messages of turmoil. At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 5, 2012, she walked out of her apartment. Harper thought she was going to church, as she always did on Saturday night.
At 8:32 p.m., Katherine tweeted:
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18 NIV)
At 9:49 p.m., she tweeted and posted on Facebook:
Waiting for this to be over.
The next morning, Katherine was discovered slumped over in her car. At 5:37 a.m., she was pronounced dead. Back in her room, she left a final note on her computer for her family. It said in part:
I want my death to bring attention to this person and what he has done so that it can stop. So that he can be stopped so that no more women will be hurt by his actions and his selfishness. So that everybody that he has continued to lie to can see the truth and everybody that thinks he is such an angel and can do no wrong can see the faÃ§ade he has put on for you. I know I’m not perfect. I’ve made my mistakes. I’ve messed up. I’ve sinned. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t.
I love both of my parents very much and I love my close friends just the same. I love my family and friends also, and I know that they love me in return. I never wanted to hurt you all like this but I really feel like I can’t go on. Please don’t feel guilty or like this is your fault because it’s not. I know that if I needed to I could reach out to any one of you and you would do what you could to help but I feel the only way for justice to truly be served in this situation is for me to give my life for the cause.
I’m doing what I’m doing so that others may know the truth.
Upon being notified of his wife’s death, Specialist Isaac Goodwin returned from Afghanistan, asking his military other woman to pick him up at the airport. He did not attend Katherine Morris’ funeral, but he did stop the funeral home’s office to pick up her death certificate.
Investigation and lawsuit
The Army conducted an inquiry into the communications between Katherine Morris and Goodwin’s other woman who was a service member. The brigade judge advocate determined that the woman believed that Goodwin was not married, and that they were in an exclusive relationship. The investigation found no evidence that she caused or contributed to Katherine’s death. But the investigating officer noted that Goodwin admitted his “marriage was a sham and solely for benefits.”
Katherine’s parents, Rev. Marguerite Morris and Willie Morris, were not satisfied with the Army’s investigation. They requested that the Army investigate further, and also sought the support of their congressman.
Another investigation was launched to determine whether Specialist Goodwin committed BAH fraud in marrying Katherine Morris, whether he failed to provide support during the marriage, and whether he committed adultery.
In the meantime, Rev. Marguerite Morris filed a claim in United States District Court against Prudential Financial Inc. Specialist Isaac Goodwin had taken out a $100,000 insurance policy on his wife’s life, and Rev. Morris wanted to block payment. Court documents state:
Morris has reason to believe that Goodwin’s marriage to Katherine was entered into under fraudulent pretenses, namely in order to allow Goodwin to collect a higher Basic Allowance for Housing (“BAH”) from the United States Army. Further, Morris has reason to believe that Goodwin was never faithful to Katherine throughout the duration of the marriage in that he engaged in sexual relations with a person other than Katherine.
The document further states:
Morris also has reason to believe that throughout their marriage, Goodwin was consistently abusive towards Katherine, and has further reason to believe that said abusive behavior directly contributed to Katherine’s suicide.
Sham marriages and BAH fraud
BAH fraud and marriage fraud are ongoing problems in the military. In 2008, PilotOnline.com, based in Virginia, reported a widespread scam discovered by Navy officials. Sailors were marrying foreign nationals so they could earn an extra $1,000 per month.
Last year, the Navy Times reported that Jermar Jones, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Grenada, was sentenced to four years in prison for arranging marriages between sailors and illegal immigrants. The article states:
The Navy is no stranger to sham marriages. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which investigated the case along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, estimates that its investigations into such scams have produced the convictions of more than 100 people about 60 percent of them sailors over the past four years, and uncovered roughly $1.5 million of BAH fraud.
In fact, in October 2010 Navy compensation officials offered training on spotting sham marriages leading to BAH fraud. The training PowerPoint stated, “fraudulent or sham marriages involve either fraudulent marriage documents or contractual/convenience marriages.”
BAH Fraud, according to the Powerpoint, is “knowlingly collecting BAH payments for which a member is not authorized.” An example is “marriage for the sole purpose of collecting BAH, providing spouse with military benefits (medical/dental)/green card (sometimes in exchange for monetary payment).”
The PowerPoint listed the following fraud indicators:
- Spouse not claimed as beneficiary for salary, leave accruals or SGLI benefits (life insurance)
- Spouse not listed in DEERS (medical benefits program)
- Spouse not provided with an ID card
- Records do not reflect a common dwelling
All of the warning signs applied in the Specialist Isaac Goodwin case, at least until January 2012, when his commanders ordered him to support his wife.
Second Army investigation
The second Army investigation was completed on August 3, 2012. Through a Freedom of Information request, Rev. Morris obtained a redacted copy. It showed that Specialist Goodwin applied for a military identification card, and enrolled Katherine in the military’s medical benefits program, on January 9, 2012.
The report included details of Goodwin’s Leave and Earnings Statement (LES)—his payroll and deductions information. In July 2011, Goodwin received $409.41 in BAH. In August 2011, after marrying Katherine Morris, he claimed a dependent and his BAH jumped to $923.72. In September, October, November and December, he received BAH payments of $989.70. In January, the BAH increased again to $1,022.70.
In February 2012, the records show that Goodwin enrolled his wife in the military life insurance program, although Rev. Morris said that Katherine didn’t know about it. He elected $100,000 in coverage on Katherine’s life.
In March and April 2012, the records finally show a discretionary allotment of $600 for his wife.
The investigating officer collected sworn statements from nine military members, ranging in rank from private first class to major. Each person was required to respond to a set of more than 50 questions about Specialist Goodwin’s marriage and relationship with his wife. Most of the answers were “I don’t know.” None of the service members had ever met Katherine Morris, and only a few had any communication with her at all.
One question was, “Do you think SPC Goodwin married for love, entitlements, or increased money?” The answers were:
“I believe love”
“Hope and assume love”
“I think possibly he married for the extra money”
“I assume he married for love. He did seem proud of his wife.”
“I don’t know. I have never seen them together.”
“I think he married for love.”
“I don’ know.”
Conclusion to inquiry
The report notes that Katherine Morris’ mother provided voluminous print-outs of electronic communication. “Because of the large amount of documentation, I have not enclosed all of these communications as exhibits to this report,” the officer wrote. “These documents are available for inspection in my office.”
The report included only three emails:
- Katherine Morris’ communication to an Army sergeant that she’d been paid $440 in January, $250 in February, was still waiting for the remaining $250 for February, and she was supposed to start receiving $600 in March, if Goodwin set up the allotment.
- The email Katherine Morris sent to the five women who she believed Goodwin was cheating with, along with one that the military woman sent to Goodwin accusing him of lying.
- The email exchange between Katherine Morris and the military other woman that preceded their phone conversation.
In the conclusion of the inquiry into Specialist Isaac Goodwin’s alleged BAH fraud and adultery, the investigating officer stated:
a. I find no evidence that SPC Goodwin committed BAH fraud.
b. I find that SPC Goodwin failed to pay support from August 2011 until December 2011. I find that SPC Goodwin did pay support beginning in January 2012, although it is unclear whether he paid the full amounts owed for January and February. I do not find by a preponderance of the evidence that he knowingly violated the captain’s order to pay support because in his order, the captain did not specify for SPC Goodwin the amount of support that he was to pay.
c. I find by a preponderance of the evidence that SPC Goodwin committed adultery by having sexual relations with (redacted—the military other woman) after his marriage to Katherine Morris.
The investigating officer recommended that his report be forwarded to Specialist Goodwin’s chain of command for “consideration and action as the command deems appropriate.”
Specialist Isaac Goodwin was promoted to corporal. And, unless the District Court of Maryland decides otherwise, he stands to gain $100,000 from the death of Katherine Morris.
For more information:
Fort Bragg soldier accused of fraud after wife’s suicide, on WRAL.com.
To help Katherine Morris’ family pay the legal costs of pursuing justice, please visit For Kathy’s Sake.