The 20-year-old student midwife who was brutally murdered by a married member of her church is the subject of a brand new BBC podcast series.
Joy Morgan, who lived in Hatfield and was studying at the University of Hertfordshire, was last seen on Boxing Day in 2018 at a church event in Ilford. She was reported missing on 7th February 2019 after failing to return to her studies. A 40-year-old man named Shohfah-El Israel (Ajibola Shogbamimu) was then arrested and charged with her murder.
Picking up where last year’s devastating documentary left off, before Joy's body was discovered, a new BBC Newsbeat podcast follows Joy’s family as they try to make sense of what happened in the months after her killer was charged. The Murder Of Joy Morgan delves into her relationship with Israel United in Christ (IUIC), an orthodox church described by some as "racist" and a "hate group", which she joined almost three years before she went missing. It’s at this church in Ilford that Joy met her killer.
Podcast host and journalist Cherry Wilson spent time with Joy's mother, Carol Morgan, as she searched for her daughter. On the podcast, Joy's sister Dionne describes the moment she found out that Joy's body had been discovered. "My mum called me and she was saying they came to the house and they said that they found remains and they’re gonna do DNA tests and whatever," she tells Wilson. "I was hoping it was Joy, to be honest. Then you’re hoping it’s not Joy. Because in the part that wants to daydream you want to still believe that maybe she’s out there. But I’m glad she was found. I’m sad that she was out there for that long. Even though she’s not even in there, that body, I was just sad to know she was out there on her own in the woods."
Israel initially told police he dropped Joy off at her student accommodation after a celebratory dinner at the church they attended on Boxing Day. He later admitted that he had in fact spent two nights alone with her in his flat in Cricklewood, northwest London. He claimed he lied because he was concerned about breaking their very strict church rules, which ban single women from being alone with married men like himself.
After killing Joy, he removed her phone number from the church WhatsApp group. He kept up the pretence that Joy was alive by visiting her student accommodation under the guise of checking on her in the days after she apparently went missing. A signal from Joy's phone – which has never been recovered – was detected in Israel's car in the Stevenage area on 28th December 2018. The keys to her flat were found in the footwell of his car after his arrest in February 2019.
In August 2019, Israel was found guilty of Joy's murder at Reading Crown Court and jailed for life. He never revealed where Joy's body was. Two months later, a dog walker stumbled upon her remains in a woodland in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
During his trial, Israel never divulged his reasons for killing Joy, a fact which is incredibly painful for Joy's family to comprehend. They want answers. "I really wonder what the hell that guy did though. And what was his reason?" Dionne continues.
To know that someone murdered her and disposed of her like that – like she was nobody – she was somebody. She was Joy Morgan. She was my sister.
"He really thought that she had a family who didn't care for her and that's not true. We just [weren't] accepting of her racist views and this church. Because that's not what the family she comes from [believe]. To know that someone murdered her and disposed of her like that – like she was nobody – she was somebody. She was Joy Morgan. She was my sister."
"I still think about the whole thing. I can't believe that Joy's been taken out like that, and that I won't see her again," Dionne told Wilson. "So every day I have to work my brain about that I'm not gonna see Joy again."
Joy's mother Carol said: "Joy was so beautiful and completely lived up to her name – she brought joy to all our lives."