As Plantation police follow leads in their investigation of the murder of a Nova Southeastern University professor, there may be a break in the case.
Plantation Police Chief W. Howard Harrison confirmed that they have taken a 'person of interest' in the case into custody.
"We're questioning someone of interest is all I can say," Chief Harrison said Wednesday afternoon.
Dr. Joseph Morrissey, 46, was shot and killed inside his home during an early-morning home invasion robbery on Tuesday.
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Around 12:30 a.m. an intruder forced his way into the home at 601 NW 75th Terrace. Once inside he tied up Morrissey and his wife. At one point as he was ransacking the couple's home looking for valuables, the robber shot and killed Morrissey. Police found his body on the back patio.
As the robber left the house, he doused the inside with gasoline and set it on fire. Morrissey's wife, who was able to free herself, escaped the burning home with the couple's five year old child.
Wednesday afternoon Plantation police picked up their "person of interest" at the Beverly Hills Cafe in Plantation. The restaurant's manager said the man had ordered chicken fingers just before the authorities stormed in. The manager said the officers told everyone in the restaurant to keep their hands up while they took the person out the back of the restaurant.
Chief Harrison said he feels confident in the breakthrough in the case.
"I still have my detectives out there," he said. "They're still following up on leads, collecting evidence. We want to do it right."
Police have not released a description of the person who killed Morrissey nor have they said why they suspect Morrissey's family was targeted.
The news that a person of interest was identified and is being questioned by police brought a sense of relief to this community.
"This is a nice neighborhood and we have no problems over here," neighbor Abdulla said. "I'm pretty confident the authorities are gonna find who it is and he's gonna be brought to justice."
Morrissey obtained his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree from Stanford University (1993) and did his postdoctoral training at the University of Miami. Before joining NSU he was Senior Scientist for the EME labs at Motorola for over 12 years, conducting studies on the effects of Radio Frequency waves on human body and human cells, a subject by which he became internationally known.
Morrissey joined NSU in May, 2009 as an Assistant Professor. Since then, his research efforts included assessing the effects of mild hyperthermia on the effectiveness of common chemotherapeutic agents used against breast cancer.
"In terms of research, he was going to be big in the area of cancer and that is an area we were building," said Nova Pharmacy Dean, Dr. Andres Malave. "We thought we had a great team for cancer research."
University officials say he was well liked by faculty, students, and staff and will be missed immensely.