Search Over, Investigation Goes On - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/15/03

Search Over, Investigation Goes On

Ashleigh Moore, 1990-2003 Ashleigh Moore, 1990-2003
A trail in the wooded area were Ashleigh was found. A trail in the wooded area were Ashleigh was found.

Worst fears have been realized, ending a month-long mystery. Savannah police have found the body of 12-year-old Ashleigh Moore. Today Savannah police held a news conference confirming what an entire community already feared, that the body found near Savannah's waterfront yesterday is Ashleigh.

"It is with deep regret that our investigative process did not work out as we expected in the beginning," chief investigator Maj. Willie Lovett said at the news conference today.

On April 18, Ashleigh disappeared from her Southside home. Days later, police began massive searches, including several on Hutchinson Island and along Savannah's waterfronts. But late yesterday morning, almost a month after her disappearance, it wasn't a cadaver dog or a detective, who found Ashleigh, but a fisherman. He was making his way down to the Savannah River, using a trail to the east of the Marriott Hotel on River Street, when he came across something suspicious.

"He contacted police and unfortunately we did find Ashleigh Moore," Det. Armando Tamargo of SPD told us.

Police informed Ashleigh's family early this morning.

"It's one of the hardest things in this job, it's never easy to do," said Tamargo.

Though police have confirmed it's Ashleigh, they aren't talking much about how she was murdered or who may have done it.

"I understand that the community wants to know, but I'm going to be in no rush to solve or at least rush into solving this case," said Maj. Lovett.

It's a case that's finally bringing Ashleigh's family some closure, but an investigation that's opening even more wounds at the same time.

"You can imagine range of emotions they're going through right now," said Det. Tamargo. "Both mentally, emotionally, psychologically...it's not over for them."

Nor is it over for detectives who are now saying they have not just one, but several suspects. Bobby Buckner, the mother's live-in boyfriend, is still behind bars in protective custody. He was convicted in 1986 of raping and molesting a 12-year-old girl, but today police still would not say if he is or is not one of their suspects.

The search for Ashleigh may be over, but unfortunately the investigation into her murder is just beginning.

Reported by: Elizabeth Garcia, egarcia@wtoc.com

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