Crime

Father let truck run to kill self, daughter

Before he and his daughter were found dead of an apparent murder-suicide on Sunday, Richard "Rick" Moore had been out of work and had tried unsuccessfully to sell the Madison County house where they were found, police said.

Moore, 43, and his 13-year-old daughter, Kelsey, were found lying together on a mattress on the floor of the garage, next to a late-model maroon Ford F250 pickup that had been backed into the garage, Detective Steve King of the Madison County Sheriff's Department said Monday. Rick Moore's arm was around the girl. Another mattress was lying next to the one on which the father and daughter were found, King said.

"It looks like that he had planned this out, and at some point, either before he brought the little girl home or after they got there, he carried a couple of mattresses down to the garage," King said. "He just left the truck running. It ran till it ran out of gas."

Rick Moore called his father, Lou Moore, who lives in Jessamine County, about 10:30 or 11 p.m. Saturday and said he would be over at Lou Moore's about 10 a.m. Sunday, King said.

When Rick Moore didn't show and couldn't be reached by phone, his father called a neighbor of his son and asked her to see if anyone was home. She checked and could see Rick Moore's truck in the garage through a break in the shades of a window. Lou Moore went to his son's house shortly after noon Sunday, opened the garage door, saw his son and granddaughter on the mattress and called 911, King said.

Rick and Kelsey Moore were found lying with their heads toward the garage door and near the front end of the truck, King said. No suicide note was found in the house or garage, King said. The detective said there is no evidence of foul play. "There is no evidence to suggest anything but suicide," he said.

Kelsey had Angelman syndrome, a rare genetic neurological disorder characterized by developmental delays and learning disabilities. She was in a wheelchair, attended Southern Middle School in Fayette County, and had the "cognitive abilities of an 18-month-old toddler," according to divorce records filed in Fayette Circuit Court.

"She couldn't walk," King said. "She had to be fed through a feeding tube in her stomach. She couldn't talk, but the grandfather says she did communicate. She hugged him, and had facial expression and could communicate a little that way. ... She wore diapers and couldn't use the bathroom" on her own.

Kelsey attended a dance Friday with her peers at Southern Middle, and, as usual, she interacted cheerfully with her classmates, said teacher Erin Setko.

On Monday, Southern students wrote letters to Kelsey's mother about the 13-year-old's smile, beauty and her favorite instrument, the trumpet, Setko said.

Last year, Kelsey participated in a special band class, Setko said, and she played the drums, guitar, bells and trumpet.

"Her mom came in today, and we were able to show her some pictures of Kelsey playing the different instruments," Setko said. "I think that was nice for Kelsey's mom to see some happy moments."

Kelsey also could make everyone smile during frustrating situations, Setko said. She loved loud noises, and her huge — almost mischievous — smile would cross her face when someone dropped a lunch tray.

"What might startle another student made her laugh," Setko said.

Fayette Circuit Court records indicate that Kelsey was one of four children that Rick and Renae Lynn Moore had before they were divorced in December 2007 after 21 years of marriage. One son had been living with his father in Madison County. Kelsey and her younger brother lived with their mother in Fayette County. Court records did not specify where another daughter lived.

King said there did not appear to be a battle over child custody. "They had had some court action just lately over child support, and the court had reduced his child support," King said.

When they were first divorced, Rick Moore paid $1,200 a month in child support, according to court records. That was reduced to $750 a month in September 2008, records said.

Then, after participating in a mediation session, Moore's child support was modified to $300 a month as of Oct. 1, 2009, according to court records. The parents also agreed to coordinate their efforts to reduce the health-insurance costs for the children, if possible.

Rick Moore's house in the Boone's Trace neighborhood near Clays Ferry had been on the market for some time, King said.

"I think it's on the market for $400,000 or $450,000. He had been trying to sell the house for almost four years," King said. "He was a builder or contractor and had been out of work."

His company, Rick Moore Homes Inc., was incorporated in 1992 and built homes in Central Kentucky. But a 2008 filing in the divorce records indicated that "over the past few years, (Moore) has experienced a dramatic drop in his income due to the economy." Income for 2007 on his personal tax return was $47,596, court records indicate.

King said an attorney had advised Moore to file for bankruptcy, but he resisted.

"The people I've talked to that knew him, they don't indicate depression," King said. "Some time last week he had asked his father, just in conversation, 'If something ever happens to me, will you take care of the kids?' And the father says, 'Well, yeah, but nothing is going to happen to you.'"

Kerr Brothers Funeral Home on Harrodsburg Road in Lexington is handling the funeral; the family has asked that arrangements be kept private.

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