The body of a 29-year-old teacher who was reported missing on Monday was discovered in a canal in Staffordshire, sparking a murder probe by the police.
Tributes pour in for ‘beloved’ teacher
Robert Morris, who taught at Stoke-on-Trent College, was last seen leaving his home in Newcastle-under-Lyme on Monday morning. His family and friends launched a desperate appeal for his whereabouts, describing him as a “beloved son, brother, uncle, friend and teacher”.
On Wednesday, his body was found in the Trent and Mersey Canal near Stone by a member of the public. A post-mortem examination revealed that he had suffered a head injury and his death was treated as suspicious.
His family paid tribute to him in a statement, saying: “He was a wonderful person who was loved by everyone who knew him. He had a passion for teaching and was dedicated to his students. He will be greatly missed by all of us.”
His colleagues at Stoke-on-Trent College also expressed their shock and sadness, saying: “Robert was a valued and respected member of our team who made a positive difference to the lives of his students. He was a talented and enthusiastic teacher who had a bright future ahead of him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Police appeal for witnesses and information
The police have launched a murder investigation and are appealing for anyone who may have seen Robert or his car, a silver Ford Fiesta, on Monday or Tuesday to come forward. They are also asking for anyone who may have CCTV or dashcam footage of the area where his body was found to contact them.
Detective Chief Inspector Jason Everett, who is leading the investigation, said: “This is a tragic and complex case that has left Robert’s family and friends devastated. We are working tirelessly to establish the circumstances of his death and to identify and bring to justice those responsible. We are following up a number of lines of enquiry and we urge anyone who has any information, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, to get in touch with us as soon as possible.”
He added: “We are especially keen to hear from anyone who may have seen Robert or his car between Monday morning and Wednesday afternoon, or who may have noticed any suspicious activity near the canal. We are also appealing for any drivers who may have been in the area of Stone, Barlaston, Trentham or Newcastle-under-Lyme on those days to check their dashcam footage and see if they have captured anything relevant.”
Anyone with information can call 101 quoting incident number 378 of December 13, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Community shocked and saddened by teacher’s death
The news of Robert’s death has sent shockwaves through the community, where he was well-known and well-liked. Many people have taken to social media to express their grief and condolences, and to share their memories of him.
One of his former students wrote: “Mr Morris was the best teacher I ever had. He was always so kind and supportive and made learning fun. He inspired me to pursue my dreams and I will always be grateful to him. Rest in peace sir, you will never be forgotten.”
Another person wrote: “I can’t believe this has happened to such a lovely person. Robert was a great friend and a wonderful human being. He always had a smile on his face and a positive attitude. He was a joy to be around and he touched so many lives. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I hope they find justice for him.”
A third person wrote: “This is so heartbreaking and senseless. Robert was a brilliant teacher and a lovely person. He was always friendly and helpful and had a good sense of humour. He was a credit to his profession and his community. I can’t imagine what his family and friends are going through. I hope they find some comfort and peace in this difficult time.”