Melvin L. Morse

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Melvin L. Morse
Born (1953-12-11) December 11, 1953 (age 65)[1]
Sandy Springs, Maryland[1]
Known for"Near-death experience" interest

Melvin L. Morse is an American medical doctor who specialized in pediatrics. He was voted by his peers as one of "America's Best Doctors" in 1997–1998, 2001–2002, and 2005–2006.[2] He has published numerous scientific articles in medical journals over the course of his thirty-year career. As the author of several books, Morse has appeared on many talk show and television programs to discuss his extensive research on near-death experiences in children.[3]

His 1991 book Closer to the Light was a bestseller. Oprah Winfrey interviewed Morse about this book in 1992. Larry King interviewed Morse in 2010. The PBS show Upon Reflection produced a half-hour episode devoted to Morse. He was the subject of an article in the Rolling Stone magazine in 2004 entitled "In search of the Dead Zone".[4]

In 2012, Morse and his second wife were charged with felony child endangerment based on allegations made by his eleven-year-old step-daughter. During Morse's 2014 trial, he was dubbed as the "waterboarding doctor" by the media.[5][6] Trial testimony did not substantiate any instances of "waterboarding" as the term is generally understood; however, Morse was convicted of reckless endangerment and was sentenced to serve three years in prison.[7][8][9]

Morse was released from Sussex County Correctional Institution (SSCI) in 2016.[10] According to Kahlil Peterkin, Clinical Supervisor of the prison's therapeutic Key program and Morse's therapist of thirteen months, Morse underwent a transformation while incarcerated. Peterkin also reported Morse was well-respected by his fellow inmates and considered a leader in prison. He taught fellow inmates meditation techniques which Peterkin also described as 'transformative" in the lives of the men who learned and practiced them.[11]

Following his release, Morse co-founded The Recidivism Prevention Group, a company dedicated to assisting addicts and former inmates in developing spiritual understandings to re-enter society as productive members. The group uses meditation techniques to accomplish these goals. Morse now resides in Washington, DC.[12]

Early life and education[edit]

Morse graduated from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Natural Science.[1] Morse earned a medical degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in 1980.[13] He interned in Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco, and then completed a residency in Pediatrics at Seattle Children's Hospital. He subsequently completed a two-year fellowship in Hematology/Oncology and a one-year fellowship in Behavioral Pediatrics.[14]


Morse practiced Pediatrics in Renton, Washington for 20 years. He was an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle. In 1986, Morse worked for a year as a pediatrician at Fort Hall, Idaho for the Indian Health Service. He retired from the full-time practice of Pediatrics in 2006 before moving to Delaware in 2007. Prior to his arrest, he was working as a pediatrician at an office in Milton, Delaware. After his arrest on child endangerment charges in 2012, his Delaware license was suspended.[13][15][16]

In 2007, Morse became the Research Director of the Institute for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ISSC) founded by Charles Tart in 1979. While Director of ISSC, he was awarded the Warcollier International Prize for consciousness research in 2011.


  • Morse, Melvin (1991). Closer to the Light. Random House Digital. ISBN 9780804108324. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  • Morse, Melvin; Perry, Paul (1994). Parting Visions:: Pre-Death Visions and Spiritual Experiences. Random House Publishing Group. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  • Morse, Melvin; Perry, Paul (1992). Transformed by the Light: The Powerful Effect of Near Death Experiences on People's Lives. Random House.
  • Morse, Melvin; Perry, Paul (2001). Where God Lives: Paranormal Science and How Our Brains Are Connected to the Universe. Harper Collins.
  • Morse, ML, Castillo P, and Venecia D; et al. (November 1986). "Near Death Experiences in a Pediatric Population" (PDF). American Journal of Diseases in Children. Vol 140 No 11 1110-1115.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Morse, Melvin (1994). "Current Problems in Pediatrics" (PDF). Near Death Experiences and Death Related Visions for the Clinician (Mosby). vol 24 55-83.
  • Morse, ML; Williams, L (December 2011). "Benefits of Reiki Therapy to a Severely Neutropenic Patient with Associated Influences on a True Random Number Generator". J Alt Comp Med. PMC 3239316.
  • Christenson, PJ, Hardoin, RA, Hennsley, JA, Morse, ML (October 1993). "The Effect of Premonitions of SIDS on Grieving and Healing" (PDF). The SIDS Survival Guide.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)

Personal life[edit]

Morse has been married twice, and has six children, five of whom are adopted.[17] He is in regular contact all his children. Delaware Family Court has not restricted his access to his daughter Melody.

Reckless Endangerment Conviction[edit]

In August 2012, Morse and his wife Pauline were arrested for felony child endangerment based on allegations of "waterboarding" made by his eleven-year-old step-daughter. He was also accused by Delaware State Police of force-feeding the eleven-year-old girl until she threw up, among other child abuses.[18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25]

Morse's trial started on January 28, 2014 at the Sussex County Superior Court in Delaware.[26] The accusation made by the State Police that Morse had force-fed his step-daughter was not substantiated at trial. The step-daughter testified at trial that she vomited due to overeating, not force feeding.[27]

Morse placed her in the bathtub and ran water over her head to rinse the vomit out of her hair. This was the testimony which spawned the term "waterboarding" by the prosecution and the media. The trial transcripts contain no testimony regarding any instances of "waterboarding" in the context of torture as it is known today.[28]

Morse was convicted of one felony count of first-degree reckless endangerment (for holding his step-daughter's head under the faucet of a bathtub) and five misdemeanor charges.[29] He was sentenced to a five-year sentence, with three years to be served in prison and two on probation.[30] His wife pled guilty to misdemeanor charges.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b c Melvin L. Morse. "Melvin L. Morse, MD, FAAP" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-02-01.
  2. ^ "The Real Melvin L Morse MD - Practice of Pediatrics". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  3. ^ "Institute for the Scientific Study of Consciousness - Videos of Children's Near Death Experiences". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  4. ^ Randall Sullivan (2004-04-29). "In search of the Dead Zone". Rolling Stone. Sullivan wrote about an intern named Melvin Morse… His work with near death children surprised him so that he became intriqued with their experiences and began a long term study… As he began to be confronted with the very real sense of a Person or Intelligence that children met on the other side, he said, "…I'm deliberately holding back from dealing with it, because I know that once I cross that line, I'm no longer a scientist."
  5. ^ a b Landau, Joel (13 April 2014). "Delaware doctor receives three years in prison for waterboarding 12-year-old girl". New York Daily News. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Delaware pediatrician convicted of waterboarding girlfriend's daughter". CBS News. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  7. ^ "Offender Status Sheet" (PDF).
  8. ^ "The Real Melvin L Morse MD - Arrest and Trial". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  9. ^ "Trial Document" (PDF).
  10. ^ "Offender Status Sheet" (PDF).
  11. ^ "Interview with Khalil and Paul Perry" (PDF).
  12. ^ "LinkedIn".
  13. ^ a b Randall Chase (2012-08-10). "Del. doctor accused of 'waterboarding' daughter". Dover, Delaware: Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2013-03-01. Retrieved 2015-04-14. Morse and his wife, Pauline, were charged with several felony counts Tuesday based on the daughter's claims. Acting upon a complaint by the Delaware attorney general's office, state officials on Thursday ordered the emergency suspension of Morse's medical license.
  14. ^ Melvin Morse, M.D.
  15. ^ "Prosecutor in waterboarding case: Ex-doctor terrorized stepdaughter for years". DelMarVa Now. 2014-01-28. Archived from the original on 2015-05-20. Prosecutors say a former Delaware pediatrician accused of "waterboarding" his stepdaughter by holding her face under a faucet, terrorized the girl for several years. In opening statements Tuesday, a prosecutor said Melvin Morse exercised total control over the girl including "her right to draw breath."
  16. ^ "Melvin L. Morse: Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2012-08-10.
  17. ^ "The Real Melvin L Morse MD - For twenty years, Dr. Melvin Morse was known as a kind, caring pediatrician who saved the lives of dozens of children in his work in critical care medicine. He was a teacher of medical students, a compassionate clinician, and a loving father and husband.Then his life changed". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  18. ^ Dan Kelley (2014-01-27). "Jurors being chosen in Delaware doctor's trial over waterboarding claims". Philadelphia: Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2014-01-30. Retrieved 2015-04-14. Morse, who heads the Institute for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, has appeared on "Oprah," "Good Morning America" and "Larry King Live" on CNN. He is the author of a book, "Closer to the Light."
  19. ^ "Melvin Morse, Delaware doctor, charged with felony counts for allegedly "waterboarding" daughter". CBS News. 2012-08-10. Archived from the original on 2012-08-10. Morse, who has authored several books and articles on paranormal science and near-death experiences, has appeared on shows such as "Larry King Live" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to discuss his research, which also has been featured on an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries" and in an article in "Rolling Stone" magazine.
  20. ^ Randall Chase (2012-08-10). "Delaware doctor accused of 'waterboarding' daughter". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2012-08-10. Hurley, the attorney, said the 11-year-old has some "opposition issues" and had complained to her parents several years ago about being abused by a half-sibling. He said the parents contacted authorities and the half-sibling was arrested, but that the girl confessed months later that the incident never happened and that she just didn't want the half-sibling living in the house.
  21. ^ Sam Wood (2012-08-10). "Del. yanks license of doctor charged in 'waterboarding'". Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2012-08-10. Melvin Morse, 58, poses a "clear and immediate danger to the public health," declared a filing published on the website of the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline.
  22. ^ "Delaware doctor arrested for 'waterboarding his daughter': A paediatrician has been arrested after allegedly waterboarding his 11-year-old daughter as a form of punishment". The Telegraph (UK). 2012-08-07. Archived from the original on 2012-08-10. "Melvin would sometimes look away while he did it and [the girl] would become afraid that he would lose track of time and she would die," according to a police document seen by the News Journal, a Delaware newspaper. The girl also told police that Mrose had said she could be put under water for five minutes without suffering brain damage.
  23. ^ "Father waterboarded his daughter, 11, four times while her mother stood by - and he'd appeared on Oprah as expert on children's near-death experiences". Daily Mail. 2012-08-09. Archived from the original on 2012-08-10. Retrieved 2012-08-10. Dr Melvin Morse, a published author who has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King, allegedly held the girl's face under a running faucet on four occasions for as long as five minutes.
  24. ^ Randall Chase (2012-08-15). "Near-death experiences doctor may have been experimenting by 'waterboarding' stepdaughter, police say". Fox News. Retrieved 2012-09-15. Based on his work involving children's near-death experiences, police suggested he may have been experimenting on her.
  25. ^ "Dad denies subjecting daughter to waterboarding". New Zealand Herald. 2012-08-17. Archived from the original on 2012-09-15. A US doctor today denied allegations of waterboarding his 11-year-old stepdaughter as part of his research into near-death experiences.
  26. ^ Lacey Johnson (2014-01-28). "Delaware doc accused of waterboarding stepdaughter goes on trial". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2015-05-20. The prosecutor, Melanie Withers, said he held the girl face-up under a running kitchen faucet until she was unable to breathe. Morse "called it waterboarding," Withers said.
  27. ^ "Trial Documents" (PDF).
  28. ^ "Court Document" (PDF).
  29. ^ "Delaware pediatrician convicted of waterboarding girlfriend's daughter". CBS News. Associated Press. 2014-02-13. Retrieved 2017-11-23.
  30. ^ Fisher, James (2014-04-11). "Doctor gets prison for waterboarding child". The News Journal. Retrieved 2017-11-23.