Man accused of killing local doctor had filed Department of Health complaint against him

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Warren man charged in the killing of former Barrington chiropractor Clive Bridgham had recently filed a complaint against him, according to East Providence Police.

Owen Morris, 21, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder, accused of stabbing Bridgham numerous times at his Pleasant Street home. Police disclosed at a news conference Tuesday afternoon that Morris had been one of Bridgham’s patients.

The complaint filed with the Department of Health based on a 2016 incident led Bridgham to agree to surrender his chiropractic license in September 2017. Paperwork from the Department of Health says a patient accused him of “violating the professional boundaries of the chiropractic physician-patient relationship.” The surrender was accepted on Nov. 1.

Two months later, on Jan. 11, police got a call from Bridgham’s significant other, reporting that she had not heard from him. Police went to check on him and forced entry into his Pleasant Street home, police said. They found he had been stabbed “multiple times.”

“It was particularly brutal,” Parella said. He described it as “an attack with an edged weapon,” but declined to say what the weapon was or if police have recovered it. Parella said the alleged murder was premeditated.

One day after the murder, investigators sought records surrounding the surrender of Bridgham’s chiropractic license, according to a search warrant obtained by Eyewitness News.

In the warrant’s affidavit, a detective explains he needs records from the Department of Health related to complaints made about Bridgham, including names, “so as to assist in the investigation of the death of Bridgham.”

Twelve days after the homicide, police arrested Morris on a warrant Monday and charged him with murder. Morris was arraigned in Providence District Court Tuesday morning and ordered to be held without bail. His defense attorney, Jason Knight, declined to comment on the charge.

Bridgham’s license was also put on probation in 2003 after he was accused of having a sexual encounter with a patient, according to a consent order. Police declined to say if any other complaints were discovered, but said they are investigating.

“Everything we looked at was a contributing factor in making this arrest,” Parella said.

In a police report from 1999, a neighbor accused Bridgham of being a “pedophile,” claiming he sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy whom the neighbor had sent to mow Bridgham’s lawn. The neighbor told police the boy’s family had declined to pursue charges.

Around the same time Bridgham was relinquishing his medical license, Morris withdrew from the University of Rhode Island. The economics major was on the Dean’s List and lacrosse team, according to spokesperson Dave Lavalee, but took a leave of absence in the spring of 2017. He eventually withdrew from the university in September.

Clive Bridgham was found murdered in his East Providence home on Jan. 11, 2018. (WPRI file photo)