Missionary slain while tracting in Virginia

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — A 21-year-old missionary, Elder Morgan Young, died Monday night, Jan. 2, after he and his companion were shot while going door-to-door in the Deep Creek area of Chesapeake.

Elder Joshua Heidbrink
Elder Joshua Heidbrink

His companion, Elder Joshua Heidbrink of Greeley, Colo., 19, was upgraded to good condition at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital on Jan. 4 and allowed to return home with his family for recuperation the next day.

Elder Young of Bountiful, Utah, and his companion were walking in the 2600 block of Elkhart Street off George Washington Highway about 6 p.m. when they were approached by a man who shot them and then fled on foot.

Elder Heidbrink was able to run to a nearby nursing home to call for help. Elder Young died within an hour.

Local members of the Deep Creek Ward rallied quickly that night and waited in the consultation room at the emergency room for information.

A police spokeswoman in Virginia said on Jan. 4 the missionaries were not victims of a hate crime, nor were they attacked because of religion. Police said they were pursuing reports that the missionaries were shot because they had witnessed another crime.

Police reported Jan. 5 that they believed they had found the weapon used in the killing. They also announced the arrest of a 19-year-old man in conjunction with the slaying.

Members of the community expressed outrage at the violence and placed flowers and candles at the site in an impromptu memorial.

"He loved his mission. He loved to serve. He loved the people of Virginia," said his grandfather, Winslow Young. "He loved everything about his assignment and was always go, go, go."

In their monthly family home evenings held with the extended family, Brother Young said they felt of Morgan's "enthusiasm and absolute love of the work," through his correspondence and reports from his family.

Elder Heidbrink met with fellow missionaries Jan. 4 where he bore his testimony and extolled the virtues of his former companion, saying he was a diligent missionary who eagerly shared the gospel with anyone he could meet. Elder Heidbrink said he planned to return to missionary service after recuperating.

In a public response, Church leaders expressed sadness at the death of Elder Young. "Our hearts reach out in sympathy, love and appreciation to his parents, family members and friends at this difficult time. We pray that they will find peace and comfort in the promises of the Lord concerning those who give their lives in His service.

"We have been heartened by the many expressions of sympathy and regret by the good people of Virginia who join with us in mourning his loss.

"We likewise express our sympathy and love for Elder Joshua Dirk Heidbrink, who sustained serious injuries in the same incident. We are grateful that his life was spared and pray for his complete recovery."

A full-time missionary serving in Argentina was killed Dec. 2 in a train accident.

Elder Benjamin Ellsworth, 19, Mesa, Ariz., died when he fell while getting onto a train and was pulled under it, according to the Associated Press.

Elder Ellsworth reportedly began his mission in June and had been serving in the Argentina Rosario Mission since August. Prior to his mission, Elder Ellsworth trained eight months with the U.S. Marines, the A.P. reported.

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