HAZARD — On March 12, 1986, several people in a home in Wabaco woke up to find their friend, Robert Moore, shot in the head. Since then family, friends, and law enforcement have been left with questions and very few answers.
Moore, who was only 35 at the time of his death and just a few years prior has lost his wife, Rhonda Napier Moore, to cancer, was described by his sister, Hazard attorney Denise Davidson, as easy to get along with and jovial. “He had an ability to talk and associate with everyone he met,” she said.
Davidson said that she received a call from the hospital around seven in the morning saying that her brother had a head injury. “He had thick black curly hair, and at that time if they knew he had been shot, they didn’t tell me he had been shot,” she said.
Davidson and her family went to the hospital and it was then that they were informed that he was shot. According to police records, the wound was made by a small caliber hand gun. Since a hand gun was found at the scene the initial thought was that the wound may have been self-inflicted, but that was disputed by the hospital’s findings.
“According to the doctor, he did not think it was self-inflicted,” said Kentucky State Police Trooper Tony Watts. “It was not a contact wound, and as a matter of fact it would have been from some distance that the gun was fired.”
Despite others being in the home at the time the shot was fired, no one said they heard anything, Watts noted. Moore was not found to be injured until the others woke in the morning. Two women then walked to a nearby business and used the phone to call authorities.
“According to their statements, nothing was heard and no one knew anything,” Watts said. “They had all laid down at wee hours of the morning, and when they got up they found him.”
Both the Hazard Police Department and the Kentucky State police arrived on the scene. The state police took over the case and began looking for suspects, but few good leads presented themselves. According to Watts, many people were questioned and some were even given polygraph tests, but no charges have ever been filed.
Moore lived for seven days after the shooting before he passed away at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Lexington.
“We were in the hospital in Lexington for that seven-day period,” said Davidson. “Someone had driven off his car that morning and his house was left unlocked, but at the time that wasn’t our concern. We were with him.”
No police records indicate that the handgun found at the scene was ever matched to the bullet that hit Moore.
Davidson said that people have told her that they thought they knew who may be involved, though after presenting those leads to the Kentucky State Police nothing has come of them. She said she is doubtful that someone would come forward now, but said it would bring her and her family closure.
“We would, but it is not very likely unless someone just decides they need to clear their conscience,” said Davidson.
The case has been open for 26 years and is now considered a Kentucky State Police cold case. Possible witnesses are becoming fewer and new leads are hard to find.
“A couple of the people that were supposedly there are now deceased, so they may take that with them,” Davidson noted.
Authorities urge anyone with information to come forward to help close the case.
“If anybody knows anything about it or has any information they would like to give us, we would be glad to hear about it,” said Watts.
The Kentucky State Police can be reached at (606) 435-6069. There is also an information form on the Kentucky State Police website that allows you to give tips in this case from the computer. Go to http://www.kentuckystatepolice.org/cold_case/post13coldcase9.php.