Montco man killed in bed

Jereleigh Morton, 47, a real estate developer, is believed to have been asleep when he was shot early yesterday.

Posted: August 06, 2007

A former plumber and handyman turned real estate developer was shot and killed while in bed early yesterday in his home in an affluent enclave of Montgomery County.

Jereleigh Morton, 47, of Whitpain Township, is believed to have been asleep when the fatal attack occurred at his Mount Pleasant Avenue home, according to Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

Morton's wife, their adult daughter, son-in-law, and the younger couple's young child were also at home at the time of the shooting.

Shortly after 3:30 a.m., Whitpain police got a 911 call about a home invasion and shooting. Ferman said the son-in-law made the call.

Further investigation, however, showed no sign of forced entry nor did any property appear to have been taken, Ferman said. No one else in the home was injured.

Ferman declined to comment on where the other family members were in the house when the shooting took place or whether any of them were under suspicion. But she said Morton's wife told investigators she may have seen an intruder.

"It was initially reported by the wife that she saw someone running from the house and she chased that person," Ferman said.

A gun that may be the murder weapon was found outside the house, she said.

Morton was supposed to leave on a personal trip to Morocco yesterday, Ferman said.

Much about the case remained shrouded in mystery yesterday.

Newspaper property records indicate Morton and his wife, Myra, bought the Mount Pleasant Avenue Southwest-style house for $1 million in 2005. A handsome house, it is set off the leafy road and down a long driveway. It is newer than most of the houses in the neighborhood and not the largest.

Before moving to Whitpain, Morton lived in North Philadelphia near Allegheny Avenue, according to Ferman. His occupation was plumber and handyman, but he had become involved in buying and rehabilitating houses in Philadelphia, Ferman said.

Real estate transaction records show he bought at least three houses in the last two years.

Ferman called the shooting an isolated incident, but the Mortons' neighbors on the quiet, shady street of mature trees and, yesterday, yellow crime scene tape, were shocked and dismayed.

They described the family as quiet, polite people, Muslims who wore traditional dress.

"They were very quiet, very good neighbors," Betsy Erbin said. "They kept their grass cut and their property tidy."

When tree limbs fell during a storm last winter, members of the family came out to help clear them, she said.

Erbin said she knew of no other recent break-ins or violent acts in the area.

"It's a very stable community and people care about each other, so we're very upset that [the Mortons] had this kind of trauma."

"It's all too freaky, too scary," said Tim Hughes, who was waxing his Mercedes near the fountain outside his home.

He said that he didn't know the family well but that from the dealings he did have, they were "nice, quiet. They'd say hello to you."

"It's terrible," Hughes said. "Somebody's dad died today."


Contact staff writer Rita Giordano at 856-779-3841 or rgiordano@phillynews.com.

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