Susyn was an actively involved parent at Dalton but in an anxious, fussy way, quick to step in with teachers or administrators to defend her children from the slightest mark on their records. Several friends of Morgan’s remember how Susyn was well known at Dalton for refusing to let her children take responsibility or blame for anything. Morgan didn’t openly defy her parents or teachers, but “she rebelled against the whole Dalton ethos of money,” says one friend. “At that age, you fancy yourself as a sort of Holden Caulfield type. It was sort of her version of that.”
Among her friends, Morgan was the wild card, unpredictable and exciting. She had dramatic mood swings. “You never knew which Morgan you were going to get. One day she would be so generous,” says a friend. “If you were in a bind she would come through, and the next day she would be demanding.” By her senior year, Morgan had invented a persona to whom she’d attribute her more outlandish behavior. She called her Rainbow. Rainbow appeared most often when Morgan was behaving impulsively. Like locking herself in a bathroom and not coming out. Or cutting herself, something she did from time to time all through high school and college. “When she was drinking,” a friend says, “she would only answer to Rainbow.”
Morgan attended Wellesley for only one semester, then enrolled at NYU’s Gallatin school, a small program of individualized study where she began writing fiction. Most of her stories read like turbocharged versions of her own life, emotional but not especially literary—more Candace Bushnell than Salinger. One was about a hard-partying girl who nannied on the side (Morgan had spent summers working as a nanny on Long Island). She turned her dorm, near St. Marks Place at Third Avenue and 9th Street, into an almost nightly party destination, flirting with the guard while her guests crawled on their hands and knees past the desk, out of view. She supplied cocaine. “A lot of guys, Dalton alumni, got her to buy it for everyone,” says one friend. Says another: “Morgan always liked the buying of it, the illicitness of it, almost as much as the drug itself. She got tight with all the drug dealers.” She moved on to heroin, courtesy of a dealer friend in Bed-Stuy. She and her friends would do the drug together when there was something worth celebrating: someone’s birthday or finishing a paper for school.
Before long, partying began to dominate Morgan’s life. Her parents were either oblivious to her drinking and drug use or unwilling to call her out for it, but it was never Morgan’s fault, a friend says. “It would always be somebody else who corrupted her.” Some nights, Morgan would lie down in the middle of the street and refuse to get up. “She wouldn’t have to have a reason,” says one friend. “It was just her general mood swings.” One night in 2007, Morgan dragged a friend to B-Side, a dive bar in the East Village on Avenue B near 12th Street, where she drank and talked for hours. The friend left her there alone at about 2 a.m. A few hours later, Morgan lay down on the dividing line of Avenue B and refused to move. When the police came, she yelled at them to go away. “Leave me here! I want to get run over! I don’t want to wake up!” The police took her to Bellevue, where she told people her name was Rainbow.
Aaron Greene is the second of three boys raised in the well-to-do village of Grand View–on–Hudson, in Rockland County. His father, Jeffrey, is the president of an architectural-restoration firm that has done work on the U.S. Capitol, the Metropolitan Opera House, and the Eldridge Street Synagogue. His mother, Desiree, is secretary of the company. As a boy, Aaron was fascinated by weapons, hand-making booby traps, pipe bombs, and a potato launcher with parts from a local hardware store. The local police chief would later tell reporters about “several incidents with him that I would characterize as kind of experimenting with explosives.”
Aaron’s parents, like Morgan’s, struggled to keep their child on a positive track. Aaron didn’t finish high school because, he says, of drinking and legal problems. For several years, he worked at his father’s company, traveling around the world to help on projects. He says he started using heroin on those long road trips out of boredom. A number of minor weapons charges followed, but he avoided doing significant jail time. He started collecting vintage weapons and military paraphernalia. He had an old Soviet Army coat and camouflage outfits from a variety of eras. He spent more time in the city, staying at a loft his parents kept on Crosby Street in Soho. In 2005, a little more than a year before he met Morgan, he spent eight months in jail for stabbing a bouncer on the Lower East Side after getting into a squabble. The bouncer later told a reporter the police seemed to go easy on Aaron, saying, “He seems like a rich kid, a good kid except when he does a little drugs.”