Man charged in strangulation death of Red Lion woman to be tried in Pa instead of Maryland

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Michael Morant

YORK COUNTY, Pa. – A man charged in the June 2016 strangulation death of Rebekah Strausbaugh, 30 of Red Lion, will be tried in York County, rather than Baltimore County, Maryland. On Wednesday, April 19, York Area Regional Police filed for an arrest warrant for Michael Anthony Morant, 48, for Criminal Homicide.

Morant had initially been charged by Baltimore County Police in Maryland in Strasbaugh’s death. Her body was found just off Interstate 83 in Baltimore County on June 27, 2016. Morant and Strausbaugh had lived together in a home on Cambridge Drive in Windsor Township.

On June 26, 2016, Strasbaugh’s sister-in-law reported to York Area Regional Police that she was missing and had not been seen or heard from since Friday, June 24. Strasbaugh, the mother of two sons, had last spoke to her family via telephone on the night of Friday June 24th. The sister-in-law told officers that Strasbaugh was going to Baltimore that weekend without Morant. It was learned later that she was going to Baltimore to meet a man and her relationship with Morant was ending.

According to Batimore County Police, Morant said that on June 25, he went to Baltimore City to look for Strausbaugh. He located her at the Shake Shack on Pratt Street and they both got into his car and drove north-bound on I-83. While they were in the car, they began to argue. He pulled off of I-83 to the area around Ensor Mill Road and Belfast Road in Sparks, Maryland. They got out of the car and continued to argue. The argument turned physical resulting in injuries to Strausbaugh that left her unresponsive. When Strausbaugh did not respond to Morant, said he dragged her body into the woods and covered her with a blanket.

In the Criminal Complaint filed in York County, the Baltimore County Medical Examiner determined that Strausbaugh was strangled to deah and she did not have injuries consistent with a fall.

York Area Regional Police discovered that Strasbaugh had left her home the evening Friday, June 24th for a short period of time. She had purchased gasoline at the Sheetz at 3200 Cape Horn Road at around 8 p.m. Surveillance video showed her wearing the same clothing Friday evening at Sheetz that she was wearing when her body was discovered. Neighbors described that when she returned to from Sheetz, she and Morant had a heated argument in front of their home.

A review of Morant’s cell phone records found that his boss at FedEx had called him repeatedly early Saturday morning because he did not show up for work. Morant called his boss back and said that he was on his way. Cell phone records showed calls throughout the day that were consistent with FedEX delivery route. Early Sunday morning records showed that use his phone that connected through a tower five miles north of where Strausbaugh’s body was left on Ensor Mill Road. That call lasted 16 minutes to Morant’s ex-wife and mother of his children. Morant did not go back to the home he shared with Strausbaugh, but stayed at his ex-wife’s home until being confronted by police on Monday morning.

The mounting evidence gathered from Morant’s cell phone useage, coupled with the fact since Strasbaugh’s body was discovered in the same clothes she had worn to go to Sheetz on Friday, June 24th, she could not have gone to a restaurant in Baltimore on Saturday, June 25th where Morant said he met her. Investigators believe she was murdered Friday night on June 24th and her body transported the next day to Ensor Mill Road and dumped in a secluded area.

Morant was being held without bail in Baltimore County, but is expected to be returned to York County for prosecution.