Berkeley couple identified as those found dead at home Monday

Berkeley couple Roger Hanna Morash and Valerie Morash were found deceased at home Monday with their cats, Minsky and Malloc. Photo: Allen Rabinovich

Update, 5:35 p.m. Roger and Val’s friends are trying to raise money to offset the family’s costs for traveling to the funeral and making funeral arrangements. Contributions can be made online.

Original story, 12:57 p.m. Police have identified the two people found dead in their apartment Monday in Berkeley as Roger Hanna Morash and Valerie Morash.

Roger was 35 and Valerie was 32, said Officer Byron White, a Berkeley police spokesman.

Autopsies for the couple began Tuesday, but the investigation is ongoing and no further information is known about what caused the deaths of the couple or their two cats.


White said the deaths remain classified as suspicious. No suspects are being sought at this time.

Writing on Roger Morash’s Facebook page on Tuesday, Kssn Crkr said, “My good friends Roger & Val have passed away. They were two of the smartest, opinionated, passionate and genuine people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. I had the honor of working with Roger on quite a few projects at Harmonix and have spent the last 3 years composing music for our game Shard w/@Anita Tung. Much love to their families and extended families at SF Indies, IndieGameDev, Harmonix, MIT, Berkeley, and all the lives they touched.”

Another friend, Allen Rabinovich, wrote too: “MIT and Berkeley folks: on Sunday night, our dear friends, Val and Roger Morash, passed away in their apartment in Berkeley. It’s an incredibly difficult time for their families and friends, and we are currently trying to gather more information and coordinate a memorial. We will hopefully hear more information from their families once there’s more clarity.

“Please keep Roger and Val in your thoughts and prayers and reflect on what wonderful, kind, amazing friends they were and the legacies they have left behind. Without them in our lives, we will need to make sure that their legacy and the beauty of their souls are not forgotten.”

The cats’ names were Minsky and Malloc. Both were Singapura cats.

According to Roger’s Facebook page, he was the founder of a gaming company called Glug Glug and a former software engineer at Harmonix, a video game development company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that is “best known for its music video games,” according to a company bio.

He studied human-computer interaction at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Roger double-majored in Computer Science and Mathematics at MIT, friend Rabinovich said.


Friend Dylan Jones described Roger on Facebook as “a delightful member of the indie game community” in the Bay Area, and wrote, “their deaths are a shock to our core.”

Valerie Morash was a researcher at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco. Berkeleyside has reached out for comment.

According to Val’s website, “She has undergraduate degrees in Electrical Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT, a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from MIT, a Master’s in Statistics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.”

Roger Hanna Morash and Valerie Morash. Photo: Courtesy of family
Roger Hanna Morash and Valerie Morash in 2014. Photo: Mark Hanna
Roger and Valerie Morash (center and right) in 2011. Photo: Stephanie Quigley

Her website continues:

“Val is a recipient of the Pathway to Independence Award (NIH K99/R00 Grant). Her graduate work was supported by the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship, National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, and Institute of Education Sciences (IES, administered through UC Berkeley) Research in Cognition and Mathematical Education Graduate Fellowship. She was also awarded the 2014 Elizabeth Scott Memorial Award for outstanding Master’s research (UC Berkeley Statistics), the 2008 Chorafas Foundation Scholarship for outstanding Master’s research (MIT Electrical Engineering), and the 2006 Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Guidant Foundation Scholarship, among others.

“Val’s research is split 50/50 on haptic perception and on issues related to visual impairment (e.g., education and accessibility). Her underlying interest is in how human cognition and knowledge is shaped by the senses. While haptic and visual perception have non-overlapping domains, such as color and temperature, they overlap in their abilities to perceive texture, shape, and space.


“Val grew up in Michigan, near Michigan State University, where both of her parents are professors, Dr. Merry Morash (Criminology) and emeritus Dr. Edward Morash (Business). She enjoys playing the violin and gardening. She has a large collection of hand and power tools, as well as a laser cutter and two 3D printers. Val is most passionate about traveling, and recent trips include Tanzania (2013), Vietnam (2014), Sweden/Denmark (2015), Lisbon/Prague (2015), and Croatia (2016).”

Adam Rosenfield, writing on Facebook, described the deaths as tragic. He and many others have expressed shock at the sudden loss.

“Roger and Val were two of the nicest people I knew,” he wrote. “It was a real pleasure working alongside Roger at Demiurge Studios, he was such a smart guy and was going so far. My condolences to all of your friends and family. Rest in peace my friends, you will be missed.”

Kurun Hattin, Roger’s mother, wrote on Facebook that the family has suggested Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy for those who would like to make donations in honor of her son: “Roger’s nephew … has Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy… and WE WANT TO END IT!”

Berkeleyside has reached out to friends and family for further information and will update this story if it becomes available.

This story was updated shortly after publication to include biographical information about Valerie Morash, donation information for Roger and additional photographs of the couple that were shared by family. A reference to the time of death was also clarified in the headline and story because it has not been released.