Charles Morgan was identified on February 2, 2021, as the lead suspect in the January 11, 1984, rape and murder of 29-year-old Teresa Solecki in Vista, California. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Morgan.
Teresa was staying with a friend who was ill. They had been in a local bar earlier that evening. Solecki left her friend’s apartment, around 2:00 am, to call her sister. She wanted the name of her sister’s doctor as her friend, Patty, was feeling quite ill again. She called her sister several times, perhaps waiting in her vehicle in between calls.
Solecki was not seen again until her body was found a few hours later by a newspaper delivery man. He saw Solecki’s naked body lying near her car about ten miles up the highway. She had numerous lacerations and abrasions, and a very severe head wound, indicating that she may have fought back against her attacker. The cause of death was found to be strangulation. The delivery man saw her shoes near her head, but when he came back with the authorities, they had been thrown down the embankment – suggesting that the killer may still have been near the car, watching him, as he found Solecki’s body.
The DNA profile of a single male was developed from semen found on Solecki’s buttocks, from semen on Solecki’s sweater, which was found discarded nearby, and from underneath her fingernails. The FGG investigation was conducted by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department with the advice and assistance of Barbara Rae-Venter. Several family members provided assistance, including some who gave investigators access to their own family trees and histories, and some who provided DNA samples. Morgan’s full sister declined to provide a DNA sample, but a half-sister did so and this assisted in the final confirmation.
Morgan himself passed away in a car accident in May of 1984 – only a few months after Solecki’s murder. His body was cremated. Family members said that he was having difficulties with drug use and may have had a methamphetamine addiction in the final years of his life. He had a minor criminal record for burglary and drug charges.
Investigators determined that Morgan closely matched composite sketches made of a hitchhiker seen in the area on the night that Solecki was murdered. He had been seen at the bar where Solecki and Patty were that evening. The route to the place where he was known to be staying at the time would have taken him directly past the payphones that were used by Solecki. Police think that he saw her at the bar and again at the payphones, and that he somehow lured her into her vehicle and attacked her, fleeing the scene after her body was found.
Several men were suspected of Solecki’s murder in the years before this case was solved, including a former boyfriend. Several men had their DNA samples taken and compared with the crime scene DNA, and all were excluded as suspects.
Associated Press. “Family Renews Hunt for Woman’s Killer: Brother, Two Sisters Offer Reward in San Diego County Mystery.” Los Angeles Times (Archives), January 13, 1985. Accessed March 26, 2022. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1985-01-13-me-8841-story.html.
Jessica Bettancourt. “Teresa Solecki.” DNA ID Podcast, Abject Entertainment, Episode 30, March 21, 2022. Accessed March 26, 2022. https://player.fm/series/dna-id/teresa-solecki.
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. “Sheriff’s Homicide Unit: The Cold Case of Teresa Solecki.” The Official Podcast of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, February 2, 2021. Accessed March 26, 2022. https://sdsheriff.podbean.com/e/sheriffs-homicide-unit-the-cold-case-of-teresa-solecki/.