EAST PROVIDENCE — A chiropractor who worked at two Olympic games was brutally stabbed to death by a former all-state athlete, whose complaint about the chiropractor’s professional conduct caused him to voluntarily surrender his license to practice a few months ago, police said Tuesday.
Owen Morris, 21, of Warren, appeared in district court Tuesday on a first-degree murder charge in the killing of Clive Bridgham, 67. East Providence Police discovered Bridgham’s body on the floor of his home on Jan. 11, after they said his long-term girlfriend called from out of state asking for them to check on him.
Morris did not enter a plea and was ordered held without bail. His lawyer, Jason Knight, did not comment on the charges after the hearing and did not return messages seeking comment.
Police said they had determined a motive but would not publicly discuss it during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Chief Christopher Parella said they had determined the crime was premeditated due to “the totality of the circumstances,” although he would not detail why they believed that.
The killing “was particularly brutal, I would say,” Parella said, adding that the victim had multiple stab and cut wounds. “This was, without question, a directed attack.”
Bridgham was a sports medicine specialist and worked at the Rio and Salt Lake City Olympic Games, according to online biographies and an interview he did with WJAR-TV in 2016, shortly before the Rio Olympics. He also worked for teams including the United States surfing, windsurfing and biathalon teams, as well as for the X-Games, according to the Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island . He practiced for over 30 years, and owned the Barrington Chiropractic and Sports Medicine Clinic in Barrington.
A few months before the Rio games, in the spring of 2016, Bridgham began treating a 19-year-old man, according to an agreement Bridgham entered into with the Department of Health when he voluntarily surrendered his license. The surrender was approved Nov. 1, 2017.
According to the license surrender agreement, Bridgham allegedly “violated the professional boundaries of the chiropractic physician-patient relationship.” The document does not specify what boundaries he violated.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said such records are confidential, but the police chief on Tuesday confirmed that Morris was the patient who made the complaint.
In addition, in 2003, Bridgham’s license was put on probation for three years after he engaged in sexual contact with a patient. He was ordered to take remedial courses on maintaining professional boundaries. A Health Department spokesman said he was taken off probation after he met the stipulations of the 2003 order.
Morris grew up in Warren and attended the tony Providence prep school the Wheeler School, where he played lacrosse and competed on the cross-country team. He went on to study at the University of Rhode Island and founded the company Lacrosse Shoot, which makes lacrosse sticks out of bamboo.
A spokesman for the university said Tuesday that Morris started at URI in the fall of 2015, took a leave of absence in the spring of 2017, and withdrew in September.
Police said they continue to investigate the crime.
“This investigation was obviously a whodunit right from the beginning,” Detective Lt. Raymond Blinn said Tuesday. “There’s a lot to this... The reality is, there’s many chapters here.”