'Last call': Fallen FBI agent honored in heartbreaking law enforcement ritual

Agent Melissa Morrow died of brain cancer stemming from her work on 9/11.

March 28, 2018, 6:11 PM

The Missouri Highway Patrol dispatcher called out to FBI Agent Melissa Morrow -- badge number 1108 -- four times on her radio Tuesday. But the dispatcher knew there would be no answer.

"Troop A to FBI 1108," the dispatcher said -- once, twice, four times.

Four times, there was no response from Morrow. It was part of what the FBI describes as a ritual for law enforcement officers who die in the line of duty.

"This is the last call for FBI Special Agent Melissa S. Morrow," the dispatcher said, as Morrow was laid to rest Tuesday outside Kansas City, Missouri. "FBI 1108 has ended her tour."

Morrow, 48, died last week of brain cancer, which she developed from her work at the Pentagon following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to the FBI.

"She fought this terrible illness with every fiber of her being," FBI Director Christopher Wray said during remarks at the memorial service for Morrow on Tuesday. "Melissa said that when she finally came to terms with the horrible reality of it all, she had a decision to make, and that decision was to fight it with every ounce of courage and strength she could muster."

Morrow most recently worked out of the FBI’s Kansas City field office.

"She was filled with pride to be keeping her hometown crowd safe from harm," Wray said. "It meant the world to her, and that kind of work ethic –- that kind of investment in the work you’re doing –- exemplified the bureau at its best, and is all too rare in today’s world."

Morrow was based in the FBI’s Washington Field Office before heading to Kansas City.

Her death is classified as a line-of-duty death because of her exposure to contaminants from the wreckage at the Pentagon and from a fire at a warehouse holding evidence from the attacks, according to The Kansas City Star.

In all, Morrow spent 10 weeks sifting through evidence related to the terrorist attack, the newspaper reported.

"She stopped everything she was doing to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, for months on end, to investigate the attack on the Pentagon, and to recover evidence from the crash site," Wray said. "She fought for justice for those we lost. She fought to bring peace to their families, and she fought to make sure that what happened that day would never ever happen again."

On Tuesday, the dispatcher announced over the radio: "Special Agent Morrow was taken from us on March 22, 2018. ... Melissa selflessly served the citizens of the United States for nearly 25 years. Melissa is a true hero."

In the first four months of this year so far, at least 32 law enforcement officers have died, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.