When Lori Morgan’s three children began school, so did she. But while they studied the three R’s, Lori studied forensics. Now the Louisiana police detective is solving crimes in front of the camera, as part of Discovery Channel’s hit show Killing Fields. She’s the lead DNA expect in this season’s puzzling case. Her life has never been more complicated, or more exciting.
Killing Fields is co-executive produced by Emmy Award-winning producer Tom Fontana (“St. Elsewhere”) and Academy Award-winning film director Barry Levinson (“Rain Man”) and follows homicide detectives as they reopen a cold case from the Louisiana swamplands.
Join GeekMom, with the help of Discovery Channel, as we talk with Lori Morgan, and then stay tuned for a sneak peak from the show — before the new season of Killing Fields airs January 26 at 10pm/9 central.
Geek Mom: You returned to school to study forensics after your children went to school — what drew you to the field? What was the hardest part about studying?
Detective Lori Morgan: I was drawn to the field of Forensics before I even knew what forensics meant. I have always been fascinated by the idea of a “clue” left behind at a crime that could lead to an arrest. The challenge was finding a degree program that would work into my life with my family. I never wanted to take away to much time with them to study or be in class, etc. The hardest part about studying was that I usually had to study late at night, after my children went to bed. Some nights I was so tired that I would just have to throw in the towel and wake up super early to study. I also tried to get as much studying done while my kids were at school.
Geek Mom: Did you watch / read true crime as a kid? Mysteries?
Lori Morgan: My brother, Mike and I used to watch crime shows all of the time! We were fascinated with the criminal mind and it never seemed to bother or scare us much. Most crime shows that might give kids nightmares, never scared us. We loved scary movies too. In fact, we still do. Now my children love to watch the same types of shows with me. Some of my favorite books to read as a young girl were the Nancy Drew Mysteries. I still have some of them. My Daughter Lilah says that she wants to reads them.
Geek Mom: What’s the most interesting part about the science of forensics? What’s the toughest thing about a cold case like the one in Discovery’s Killing Fields?
Lori Morgan: The most interesting part about Forensic Science to me is the way it works hand and hand with Law Enforcement to solve even the most difficult cases. It is an amazing thing when the tiniest piece of evidence produces a DNA profile that gives us the lead in a case that we need to effect an arrest. One of the toughest things about working on a case like the Boisfontaine case is the fact that our forensic evidence is 18 years old and very degraded. We feel lucky to have any evidence at all to work with given the fact that she was in the bayou for nearly 2 months.
Geek Mom: You’re working a full-time job, having a life, and filming a show with Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson — what’s that like?
Lori Morgan: My days are very busy working full time and then going home to try to have quality time with three teenagers and a husband. That in and of itself is a big challenge. When you throw in days of filming this show, it just adds one more element to the confusion. I must say that I have enjoyed the experience very much though. My family has been super supportive and excited about my role in Killing Fields.
Geek Mom: What advice would you give your kids about following in your footsteps, or not?
Lori Morgan: So far, none of my children have expressed an interest in Forensics as a career choice. Even though they see how much I enjoy my career, they also see the late nights and long hours that I put in for not very much monetary compensation. I tell my children that their career choice should be something they have passion for because the money aspect of it will only keep them happy for a limited time.
Geek Mom: What advice would they give you?
Lori Morgan: My children always advise me to be safe on crime scenes. They are happy that I know how to protect myself and others with my gun. We are all thankful that Sheriff Stassi made me go through the thirteen-week police academy so that I am in the field with the proper training.
Geek Mom: Are there particularly geekish or nerdy aspects of your job? What’s the grossest part?
Lori Morgan: I am the resident “Science Nerd” of our Criminal Investigation Division. If there is a science question in a case we are working, the other detectives usually direct it at me. The grossest part of my job is having to photograph victims of violent homicides. It gets even grosser if the victim has been dumped in a bayou or field and has been there for a few days or weeks. The smell of a body in advanced stages of decomposition is rough.
Geek Mom: What encouraged you to say yes to being on Discovery Channel?
Lori Morgan: I was interested in being a part of the team that brings justice for Eugenie’s murder. It was also exciting to think that the small parish of Iberville, where I live, would be featured in the show. It was even more exciting to think that my co-workers and myself would be on TV doing what we do best and that is investigating crimes.
Geek Mom: Do you consider yourself a geek or a nerd?
Lori Morgan: I can definitely be quite nerdy in my love of the scientific, non-emotional approach to processing crime scenes. I look at them as a puzzle that needs to be put together through documentation and evidence collection.
Geek Mom: How do you think seeing your experience on the Discovery Channel will impact young women who may or may not be interested in sciences?
Lori Morgan: I believe that young women will be inspired by seeing what I do and realize that there is a “real” career out there in forensics and not just a made up CSI character. I also hope that I inspire women that may feel that they are too old to return to school, to follow their intuition and go for it! I got my Forensic Science degree at the age of 41 and I feel as young as ever!!
Many thanks to Detective Morgan for sharing her time with GeekMom, and to Discovery Channel for providing the sneak peeks below for Killing Fields.