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‘This was an intentional taking of a person’s life’: Sheriff calls out ‘heinous coward’ who killed mom of 5 along trail while she was out on weekend hike

Rachel Morin, Sheriff Jerry Gahler

Rachel Morin (L) via Harford County Sheriff’s Office, (R) Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler

A Maryland sheriff has called out the unknown “heinous coward” that authorities believe killed Rachel Morin, a 37-year-old mother of five, while she was out on a hike last weekend along the Ma & Pa Heritage Trail in Bel Air.

Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, cognizant of a community on edge, spoke directly into a camera Wednesday to provide an update “on where the investigation stands” without getting too specific about what his deputies have learned so far.

A team of detectives, forensic investigators and crime analysts have been working around the clock to piece together a comprehensive timeline of the “days, hours, minutes, and seconds before Rachel died,” the sheriff said. In addition, some of the “more than 100 tips” submitted by the public “have been promising,” Gahler said.

“Some of your tips have been promising and tremendous in advancing the investigation and bringing us closer to getting the answers that we need, the answers that Rachel’s family needs, and the answers that our community needs,” the sheriff said, urging members of the public to “keep sending [tips] in,” even if the details might seem insignificant.

“That might be the key piece of evidence of information we are looking for,” Gahler said.

Aware that many are nervous and concerned that there “might be someone in our midst preying on women,” the husband and father of two daughters said he understands those fears.

The sheriff said that authorities are proactively patrolling at both ends of the hiking trails.

“There will be a time when I can share more,” the sheriff said, cautioning that the release of too many details too early could jeopardize the ongoing probe. “What I can tell you for sure is this was an intentional taking of a person’s life.”

The Harford County Sheriff’s Office previously confirmed that Morin’s boyfriend was the one who reported her missing late Saturday night, several hours after the hiker was last seen alive in Bel Air near the Ma & Pa Heritage Trail. Morin was found dead Sunday afternoon and was confirmed to be a victim of a homicide.

Morin’s car, investigators said, was found parked at a trail entrance on Williams Street in Bel Air.

“Rachel’s car was located at the Williams Street entrance in Bel Air. If you are walking the trail this morning and see anything suspicious, please call 911,” authorities’ online post continued. “Please help us locate Rachel Morin, age 37. Rachel was last seen around 6:00 pm on Saturday, August 5, 2023 when she left to walk on the Ma and Pa Trail in Bel Air. Rachel is 5’2, 107 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a blue or black tank top, black sports bra, black spandex shorts, and gray sneakers.”

After news of the homicide spread far and wide, would-be online sleuths swarmed a relationship status update from Aug. 1 posted by Morin’s new boyfriend, Richard Tobin, speculating that he could be to blame even though authorities had not accused him of any wrongdoing.

Tobin responded directly to hundreds of commenters pointing a finger at him. He asked for space to grieve the loss of a woman he loves.

“I love Rachel, I would never do anything to her, let the family and I grieve. Yes I have a past but I also have 15 months clean and have changed as a person. Please,” Tobin wrote Sunday.

On Wednesday, Sheriff Gahler did address public questions surrounding Tobin and whether authorities have interviewed him.

“The answer is yes, we have,” the sheriff said, “Along with many other people who are close to Rachel.”

“That is the way an investigation is conducted,” Gahler noted.

In closing, the sheriff said the “heinous coward” responsible for the killing, whoever that might be, will be brought to justice.

“Together we will solve this crime and find the heinous coward who took Rachel Morin from her family and friends,” Gahler said.

A GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Morin’s funeral and memorial has raised more than $41,000 as of Thursday morning.

“I raised the goal as we would like to do a large celebration of life for Rachel. We had no idea the amount of people she touched, even in just her everyday life,” wrote Rebekah Morin, Rachel’s sister. “We want all those who loved her to grieve with us and celebrate her life. We would also like to raise enough to get a headstone that is fitting for her and we did not take into account the fees. We appreciate all those who have shared, donated and thoughtful words.”

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.