Who was Morgan Daub, the woman at heart of family's planned suicide?

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

Morgan Daub set her jaw and summoned a serious, resolute tone to declare her allegiance to God at the end of an eight-minute video in November.

“I am a prophet of the most high God,” Daub told her phone camera from a dimly lit home hallway. “And I am ready to roar for Him.”

Her defiant tone, with which she snapped an “amen” at the end, was the final state from a range of emotions. She opened the video chuckling, made a somber “abdication” of the British throne and grew snarky at times as she seemed to argue that her refusal to take the crown would prevent her from becoming the Antichrist. Daub delivered all of this in a stream-of-conscious monologue.

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Two months later, the 26-year-old was found shot dead beside her parents at their home in the 2000 block of Loman Avenue as part of a planned family suicide. West Manchester Township police found the bodies of Morgan and her parents, 62-year-old James and 59-year-old Deborah, in the backyard of their home the morning of Jan. 25.

A screenshot from one of the videos Morgan Daub, 26, posted to YouTube in the year before she and her parents were found shot to death outside their West Manchester Township home.

More details emerged Tuesday about the crime scene that investigators said demonstrated a tremendous amount of planning on the part of the family.

The lead detective in the case, Timothy Fink, said all three family members left notes behind, written in their own handwriting.

"The note from James Daub indicated that he wished to commit suicide but there were only two guns and he was too shaky to pull the trigger, so Deborah pulled the trigger for him," Fink said, in a written response to questions submitted by The York Dispatch. "The note from Deborah stated that she was unable to pull the trigger, so her daughter pulled the trigger — but it should still be considered a suicide."

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Fink added: "We may never know with certainty exactly who fired each shot."

Police went to the house in response to a call for a check on the family’s welfare. Chief John Snyder confirmed a neighbor who saw the bodies thought they might’ve been deflated Christmas lawn decorations at first.

Snyder said there was not a tarp at the scene. That was a rumor, one of many that spread in the wake of the incident.

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Daughter wanted to end her life: Fink said additional written documents left behind by each family member "detailed that Morgan had told her mother that she was having auditory hallucinations which were not getting any better."

According to the detective, Morgan told Deborah that she wanted to end her life.

"Deborah wrote that she didn’t want her daughter to pass on alone, so she had decided to end her life with her," Fink said. "The letter written by James indicated that they had told him their plan, and he decided that he didn’t want to live without them."

According to Fink, Morgan's note featured references to numerous Bible passages, similar to the language in her YouTube videos.

In their individual letters, Fink said the family members left instructions for relatives about where they could find life insurance policies and keys for filing cabinets. They also detailed how their financial accounts — including information about debts to be paid — could be accessed.

"They had also sedated their family dog with medication," Fink said, "so that it would not pose a threat to first responders."

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A different Morgan: Some have said the Morgan Daub seen on YouTube in recent months was not the Morgan people knew at local bowling alleys, where she competed from the time she was a child.

“She really seemed to enjoy bowling. And she was smart,” said Paula Wolfe, youth coordinator at Suburban Bowlerama. “Kind of a quiet girl. Her mother was very friendly. Dad was friendly.”

When asked what she meant — that this Morgan, the one from YouTube, was not the girl she knew — Wolfe struggled to find the right words. There was no explanation, she finally concluded. It was too difficult.

“Everybody’s just really sad about it, and just doesn’t know what to make of it,” Wolfe said. “I don’t know that you could ever imagine this. But, yeah, a family that you’d never ever think that anything like this would happen.”

She spoke at the bowling center along South Queen Street on Friday night, two days after the deaths.

The site of an incident at 2098 Loman Ave. in  West Manchester Twp. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.

Family details: Snyder said the Daubs were extremely religious, apparent Christians. James worked. Deborah and Morgan did not, he said. He also said there were mental issues, and he pointed to Morgan’s YouTube videos as “pretty clear” evidence she had a lot of issues.

He didn’t know whether York County's child welfare office was ever called to the home. He did say West Manchester Township police had been called to the home in the past, but for “basic police type calls for service,” and not for family issues or problems.

The case is closed for now, he said.

Property records show the Daubs lived at their home for the past 23 years with the purchase in May 2000. Morgan would’ve been about 3 years old at the time.

'Such a tragedy': The family’s deaths also hit hard for Sherry Wagman, the assistant tournament director for the York/Adams United States Bowling Congress association. She lamented how mental health assistance apparently wasn't sought.

“Such a tragedy to the entire family, and my heart breaks knowing that she/parents could have gotten some kind of help,” she said.

Both Wolfe and Wagman recalled how Morgan grew up as an avid bowler from childhood into her mid-20s.

The York-Adams United States Bowling Congress recently presented high average plaques at its annual youth awards dinner. High average bowlers, their age division and average are, front row, from left: Max Minnich, prep, 168; Mary Beth Baker, prep, 163 and Evan Plessinger, bantam, 134. In the back, from left, are: Zachary Ilgenfritz, senior, 216; Marc Howard, junior, 214; and Morgan Daub, senior, 190. Alyanna Brown and Kaelyn Savinon were absent when the photo was taken.

She got into bowling around age 8 or 9, Wagman said, and she got into the youth league at the former Lincolnway Bowling Alley in West Manchester Township in the 2005-2006 season.

Wagman remembered Morgan as a child who always wanted to learn more about the game.

“As a young girl, Morgan was shy, but was always happy. She would get so excited when she bowled good,” Wagman said in a message.

Morgan stuck with the youth league at Lincolnway until the facility closed in 2013, Wagman said. She then moved to Suburban Bowlerama and did youth bowling there for two years.

“Morgan bowled in various tournaments while she was a youth bowler and earned quite a few scholarships from those tournaments,” Wagman said.

Travis Sparks, right, congratulates Morgan Daub, left, and Jordyn Myers, center, on being scholarship winners from the first York-Adams Youth Hall of Fame Classic held at Colony Park Lanes North.  Myers won the Division A competition and collected a $250 scholarship, while Daub captured the Division B competition and earned a $200 scholarship. Myers and Daub bowl at Suburban Bowlerama. The tournament features York-Adams United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame members bowling with youth bowlers. Thirty-one youth bowlers and 12 Hall of Famers participated.

Mother-daughter hobby: Wolfe worked at Lincolnway when Morgan bowled there, she said. After she took a job at Suburban Bowlerama, she remembered when Morgan switched and started bowling there. After finishing her youth league career, Morgan joined the Shenberger adult doubles league with Deborah.

“This was something that they started to do together to do something together,” Wolfe said.

They seemed close, she said, a typical mother/daughter pair who bowled well together and didn’t seem to have anything negative between them.

Wagman also knew Deborah from the doubles bowling. But she didn’t really know James, saying he was quiet and wasn’t always at the center.

Morgan moved to the adult doubles league with her mother in 2017 while she attended Messiah University in Mechanicsburg, Wagman said. She bowled in singles competitions as well, according to some online results. Wagman noted she was one of the top women bowlers in the area for the 2018-2019 season.

According to Messiah University spokesperson Danielle Ran, Morgan first applied and was accepted to the school in 2015 as a transfer student. However, Morgan did not end up attending Messiah and never earned any course credits. That would seem to conflict with what Wagman and Wolfe said they were told by the Daubs.

Other accomplishments: Morgan bowled a perfect 300 score twice in games in 2017 and 2018, and she had two series over 700, Wagman said.

Morgan Daub poses and smiles for a photo congratulating her on bowling a 300 at Suburban Bowlerama in November 2017.

Suburban Bowlerama congratulated her for the one 300 in a Facebook post in November 2017 that shows Morgan smiling and posing with her hands behind her back.

She even apparently traveled to Ohio to compete in the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Greater Cleveland Open tournament in April 2019 — the event reportedly kicked off that season’s tour. Results listed her as 87 out of 98 bowlers in the standings.

Wolfe estimated Morgan had a bowling average of about 200.

Stopped bowling in 2020: COVID-19 apparently ended Morgan’s bowling aspirations after the pandemic shut down alleys for a time in 2020.

“They’d have lunch here sometimes, and they interacted with other people. And I think it was probably around the pandemic that that kinda stopped,” Wolfe said of Morgan and Deborah. “I hadn’t seen her since they stopped bowling.”

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Morgan also played softball for the township’s parks and recreation department, Snyder said.

He said other staff members described Deborah as, “a helicopter-type mom that was overly concerned about her daughter.” He said she was careful about exposure and illness issues.

YouTube channel: Morgan started the YouTube channel in June 2022, the site shows.

She posted three videos — one in September, one in November, and one 6-second clip of text reading “Follow me as I follow Christ” on Jan. 24, one day before the family died.

Over the past week, the videos on her channel have had thousands of views, according to site data.

In Morgan’s September video, in which she speaks over a PowerPoint slide, she mentions multiple times how nobody will probably watch or make it deep into the 29-minute video, which she also said she didn’t make for attention.

If you've experienced thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free through the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling 988 in the United States. You can find more information at 988lifeline.org.

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.