On August 26, 2016, 24-year-old Totinika Elix and 23-year-old Emily Morgan were found murdered just outside of McAlester, Oklahoma.
Both mothers and Oklahoma natives, the women had met each other a few months earlier.
Twanna Brown told Dateline that her daughter Totinika was “a happy person, a real sweet person.”
Totinika Elix grew up in Oklahoma City, the eldest girl of nine siblings. “She was raised in Oklahoma City with myself, her father, her grandmothers, and all her siblings,” Twanna told Dateline.
Twanna said that to her, nothing is more important than family. “Everybody gets together for the holidays, comes to my house,” she said. “We just stay around family.”
As a result, family was extremely important to Totinika, as well. “She was a homebody,” Twanna said. “She was real close to her siblings and her boyfriend.”
Totinika and her boyfriend, Traemar James, were high school sweethearts. “They had a really good relationship,” Twanna said. In 2013, the couple welcomed a baby boy and a year later, a girl.
“She was just a goofy person,” Twanna said of her daughter. “She just kept a smile on your face.”
In early 2016, Totinika met Emily Morgan. “She was a mother and a sister and a daughter,” Kim Merryman said of her daughter, Emily.
Emily was raised in Hugo, Oklahoma. “She lived there most of her life,” Kim told Dateline.
Growing up in Hugo, Emily discovered an array of interests. “She loved softball. She did cheerleading,” Kim told Dateline. “She did fashion and modeling.”
Kim told Dateline Emily was also a Choctaw tribal member. “She was a princess,” Kim said.
But Kim said Emily’s focus shifted when she had her son, Payden, at just 16 years old. “Everything that she did was focused on Payden,” Kim said. Kim told Dateline that after graduating from high school, Emily started attending Rose State College in Oklahoma City but then joined the real estate business.
By 2016, Emily had moved from Hugo to Oklahoma City, where she met Totinika.
“She didn’t know her that long,” Twanna Brown said, of her daughter’s friendship with Emily Morgan. “I want to say a few months.”
Twanna told Dateline that the two women met through Totinika’s boyfriend. “Emily was dating [Totinika’s] boyfriend’s cousin,” Twanna said. She told Dateline that she met Emily just a few times. “I kept her son a couple of times while my daughter would go on photoshoots with her and whatnot.”
But photoshoots weren’t the only thing Emily would go to. Kim told Dateline her daughter had gotten mixed up in the wrong crowd.
“Once a week she took a trip to McAlester,” Kim said. “She had to pick something up for this man and go deliver it for him.” Kim told Dateline that the “something” was drugs.
August 26, 2016, was a day Emily planned to go to McAlester.
Kim said she spoke with her daughter Emily early in the day. “She wanted me to babysit,” Kim told Dateline, but since she had plans that day, she wasn’t able to watch her grandson. So Emily took Payden to Totinika’s house. Totinika’s boyfriend was going to look after him while the women went out.
“[Totinika] had been stuck in the house with the kids,” Twanna told Dateline, and she liked hanging out with Emily, whose lifestyle was so different from her own. “She didn’t drink, she didn’t do nothing,” Twanna said.
“She went with her for the ride,” Twanna explained about the trip to McAlester. “Usually, her children’s father wouldn’t even let her go to stuff like that --because she was a homebody.” But this time Totinika went. “The next thing we know, she lost her life,” Twanna said.
Emily Morgan and Totinika Elix were shot and killed that night in Bache, Oklahoma, about 10 minutes from McAlester. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is investigating their murders. Public Information Officer Brook Arbeitman told Dateline in an email that “Morgan and Elix were both last seen in McAlester, Oklahoma on August 26, 2016, at 11:15 p.m.” He said their bodies were found on “East Highway 271 in Bache, Oklahoma.” Arbeitman told Dateline Emily’s 2012 Ford Fusion was found in “front of a vacant home and the homeowner checking on the property saw the car and called the Sheriff’s Office.”
Officer Arbeitman said the “case is still actively being investigated,” and that their office “will continue to follow every lead in pursuit of justice for Emily and Totinika.”
Twanna told Dateline that on the night of August 26, she received a concerning call from her daughter’s boyfriend. “He had called me that night,” she recalled. “He let me know that she went out of town with Emily but she’s not answering her phone anymore.” Twanna told Dateline that because of the lack of cell service in the McAlester area, she initially didn’t think anything of it. Until, the next day, August 27.
“[Traemar] called me and he had told me the police contacted him,” Twanna said. He said that the police told him that Totinika had been murdered. Twanna told Dateline that the “detectives ended up at my house the night they found them.” That was when they confirmed what Traemar already told her – Totinika, Twanna’s 24-year-old daughter, had been murdered.
Kim Merryman said she spoke with her daughter Emily every day and was immediately concerned when she couldn’t get in contact with her on August 27. “I started looking for her,” Kim recalled. “I had a real bad feeling -- I knew she had gone to McAlester.”
Kim told Dateline she started calling hospitals and police stations. “Then somebody messaged me and told me there had been two women found in the driveway,” Kim said. “I knew immediately.”
Twanna said her daughter was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. “It didn’t have nothing to do with Totinika,” she said.
Kim told Dateline the same thing as well. “The only way Totinika was involved -- is never letting Emily do these things alone,” she said.
On June 5, 2018, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation posted that “OSBI special agents have conducted numerous interviews, collected evidence, and served several search warrants in an effort to solve these horrific crimes.”
There have been no named suspects or persons of interest in the murders.
Kim believes she knows who the killer was and it’s just a matter of time before the case is solved. “Somebody’s gonna say something someday,” she said.
Twanna said she, too, believes justice will be served, it just might not be now. “Whether it’s here on earth or judgment day with the Lord, it’s gonna be served,” Twanna said.
Anyone with information about the murders of Totinika Elix and Emily Morgan is asked to contact the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at 800-522-8017.