ANGOLA — Indiana State Police Detective Commander Kevin Smith believes someone, somewhere in Steuben County knows what happened the night of July 26, 1988, when Fremont Town Marshal Bobby Moore was gunned down outside his Fremont home.
Allen Stout, the attorney who represented Moore in his murder case, believes the number could be as high as a half dozen or so people.
“I guess the only thing I would say, yes, I think that there probably is someone out there who probably knows something … based on the information we had in the investigation back when I was involved,” said Rob Wiley, who held Smith’s position in 1988 and worked on the Moore investigation. Wiley retired from the ISP is now chief of the Kendallville Police Department.
Smith, who worked briefly with Moore after becoming a rookie Indiana State Police trooper in December 1987, is known for cracking cold cases.
And he would very much like to see the Bobby Moore case heat back up so he or any police officer, really, can solve this case that has mystified many and has had people in Steuben County wondering why for three decades.
“This happened right here in Steuben County in the little town of Fremont. I have no doubt in my mind there’s someone still living here in Steuben County who could help us solve this case, if they would just come out and talk to us, do the right thing,” Smith said. “It is the only unsolved case of a police officer being murdered in northeast Indiana. Someone needs to step forward and help us solve this case. Do the right thing.”
There are a number of cold cases all around, but especially in Steuben County. Smith has cracked a couple recently and has worked on others in his role with the State Police post headquartered in Fort Wayne.
But this case, said Stout, a seven-year veteran of the State Police before becoming an attorney, is a cop. Police take care of their own, and having an unsolved murder of a police officer, a town marshal, hurts those who wear blue.
The case has been in the hands of the Indiana State Police since Day 1. The original investigator was ISP Detective Miles Stacey.
Like a lot of cold cases, investigators look into them from time to time. Lately, not much has happened with the Moore case.
“Not particularly, no. We haven’t had many leads on this lately. It’s sitting here on the desk, so we’re always open to them,” Smith said.
Smith said he and Stacey would talk about the Moore case, which was one of the first homicides worked by Stacey.
“Miles and I talked about this case at length,” Smith said. “There have been some leads that came up.”
There have been some minor leads and some that looked promising.
“He did have one at one time that he looked into quite a bit. We have had some that we have looked into since,” Smith said.
The one lead that looked promising came right before a tragic accident that took the lives of Stacey and his wife, Brenda, July 16, 1999, in LaGrange County, said Stout, an Angola attorney who represented Moore in his case for which he was charged with murdering his wife, Barbara Moore, earlier in 1988.
Stout recalls Stacey calling him and setting up a meeting for the following Monday, July 19, 1999. He had something that looked promising and he wanted to discuss it with Stout. Because of the tragic accident, the two would never meet.
“I have no idea what it was Miles had,” Stout said.
Retired Fremont Chief Deputy Marshal Tom Robison said he communicated with Stacey occasionally, particularly when things were heating back up in the Moore case.
“I really liked him (Stacey). I wasn’t able to help him myself. He kept working on it. It was a cold case and he said he was looking into some things and then, I don’t know if you know about this, he was gone, died in a wreck,” Robison said.
And the case remains cold.
The Moore murder struck Smith like no other, he said. Moore attended Smith’s graduation from the police academy and as an officer, Smith worked with Moore on a few cases in his rookie year.
“This case has a very deep connection to me. It happened my rookie year in the county I was working in. I had my car by then. Bobby Moore had been to my graduation because his stepson was in my class,” Smith said. “Of course I met him working (on cases). I got to work with him a bit.”
Moore’s stepson was Sam Sisler, Fremont, the son of Barbara Moore. Sisler went through the police academy in the same class as Smith. They roomed near each other.
“He was in the room right next to me, you bet (I knew him),” Smith said.
After their graduation on Dec. 19, 1987, the two rookie troopers went their separate ways. Smith was assigned to Steuben County and Sisler went to Tippecanoe County.
By the time July 1988 rolled around, Sisler was no longer a trooper and Smith was still working away in Angola where he would stay for a couple decades before moving into the detective ranks and now heading up the investigators out of the Fort Wayne post.
Police wanted to question Sisler at the time of Moore’s murder but he would not talk. He never was named as a suspect.
Smith won’t comment on any theory he might have about the case. He tries to keep an open mind about who killed Bobby Moore.
“All I can say is I’m open to any suggestion,” Smith said. “I am open to any leads that will lead us to solving this investigation. I have a complete open mind about this case.”
Time, especially 30 years of time, can work against investigators in a cold case. Witnesses might die. Evidence might no longer be able to be found. Time can be the No. 1 enemy in a case like the Bobby Moore murder.
“It certainly is in a case this cold,” Smith said. “These cases certainly don’t get any easier.”
On the other hand, which Smith has learned in some cases, with time, people’s minds change about talking to police. Other people, possibly feeling guilt or remorse, decide it is time to talk.
“Sometimes (time) can help you,” Smith said.
“The thing about it is sometimes people aren’t able to provide information at the time but their circumstances might change,” Wiley said, “they might have a different frame of mind.”
The guilt factor alone has to be troubling to deal with for people who may know details about a case like the Bobby Moore murder or even the person or persons who committed the crime, assuming they are still living.
“I would think it would be difficult,” Smith said.
It’s been 30 years.
“This is certainly one of those (cases) that would be nice to bring to a close,” Wiley said.
Smith wants to know who killed Bobby Moore. If you know anything that can help, call Smith at 432-8661.