Phoenix (WSYR-TV) -- An appearance on a national television show is adding momentum to an investigation that has plagued a family from Clay for years.
Sheena Morris, who grew up in Central New York, was found dead in Florida nearly four years ago. Police say she killed herself. Her family insists she was murdered.
Friday, as her parents and boyfriend appeared on a taping of the Dr. Phil Show, 40 friends gathered at a bar in Phoenix to hear the results of one key polygraph question.
Dr. Phil asked Morris’ boyfriend, Joe Genoese, if he killed her. He said ‘no.’ According to the test examiner, the answer was deceptive.
After hearing the results of the polygraph test, Lisa Lane, who helped raised Sheena, raised her hands in the air and shouted with relief.
“It made me feel good for once in three and a half years," Lane explained. "Finally, that everybody will see what we've known all along."
Sheena's family and friends are hoping the national exposure will put pressure on investigators to transfer the case from the Bradenton Beach Police Department in Florida to the FBI.
Sheena's mother, Kelly Osborn told Phil McGraw, "The police department should not be working a case that they've already messed up on."
The family's opinion draws back, in part, to a 911 call from a hotel where Morris was renting a room with Genoese for a holiday outing together. Lane wonders why no one was arrested if domestic violence was suspected.
"They didn't even question Joe and they passed him in the hallway. What police officer would do that?" Lane wondered.
The next morning, New Year's Day 2009, David Morris remembers a call from his daughter's sobbing boyfriend.
"Him and Sheena had gotten into a fight the night before and he continuously talked about my daughter in the past tense,” said Sheena’s dad David Morris.
Hours later, Sheena's body was found hanging in the hotel room. Genoese claims he left after their fight and Morris refused to go home with him. The death was declared a suicide. An experienced polygraph examiner told Phil McGraw he believes the boyfriend is a clear suspect and there are several avenues that investigators should pursue. Joe Genoese maintains his innocence.
"I'm nervous. I've never taken one of these things before," Genoese insisted.
Polygrah examiner Jack Trimarco, who was introduced as a former FBI agent, interrupted Genoese to suggest that everyone who takes a polygraph is nervous.
"You’re either lying or you’re telling the truth,” Trimarco said. "There was no doubt in my mind that you weren't telling the truth about those questions."
Sheena's family and friends have new hope the FBI will take over the case
"None of us will ever give up. We will fight until we can't anymore and that will be on our deathbeds,” said Sheena’s friend Justina Jones.
A collection and part of the proceeds from a "watch party" at a bar in Phoenix with be donated to Vera House for victims of domestic violence, in Sheena's name.