I was off duty Sunday the 27th and Monday the 28th. I spent the entire time with my wife Robbin and 2 year old son Paxton. I did not watch the news or read the paper back then. On the afternoon of Tuesday the 29th, I reported for duty in the major crimes unit. Every day at 4:00 P.M., we had a joint roll call meeting between day shift and night shift detectives. Day shift detectives were always given the floor to tell others about their active cases. Detective Jackie Lewis briefed us on a missing person case he was working. He told us the missing man was Charles L. Moss, age 30. He was reported missing by his wife, Rita, on Saturday the 26th around midnight. They lived on Navajo Trail in Cherokee Park subdivision in northern Shreveport. Charles was last seen by Rita as he left their home in route to Eckerd Drug on N. Market. He was going to pick up a prescription and swing by Wendy’s to buy her and their children a Frosty. He never returned home. Shortly after midnight on Saturday, his late model Chevy Monte Carlo was found burned to the ground outside the northern city limits of Shreveport, near the Cooper Road neighborhood. Lewis confirmed with Eckerd Drug, Charles visited the store and picked up a prescription for his wife. Lewis stated Detective Stubblefield, with the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s office, was working the case on the torched car which was outside the city jurisdiction. Lewis added arson investigators detected a strong odor of gasoline at the scene of the abandoned car. Lewis indicated he had no real leads or information on Charles Moss beyond the fact he failed to return home and his car was abandoned and burned. Several other detectives took turns giving updates on their murders, rapes and robberies.
When day shift finished, it was my shift’s turn to speak. Several detectives talked about their cases and then it was my turn. I was leaning against the wall of the large conference room as I spoke to the 30 or so detectives. Once the day shift detectives finished talking, they quickly became disinterested in hearing what my shift had to share. Some had already changed from plain clothes into their police uniforms so they could go to their extra jobs. It was clear they were not interested in hearing me talk about my recent stabbing and shooting case. As I spoke, several of them rolled their eyes and tapped their feet hoping I would soon shut up so they could leave the station. I talked on about my case and the facts that my victims and witness were lying. One was shot and the other stabbed. I found a bloody knife under the front seat and a cowboy hat, western boots and belt in the trunk of their car with fresh blood on them. I gave these details to all detectives present. Several day shift detectives were engaged in talking and laughing loudly at an apparent inside joke. Other detectives were unable to here me talk. They were some of the commander’s favorite detectives. He stood at the head of the table and let them disrupt the meeting.
As I finished describing the western clothing, Detective Gary Alderman shouted at the laughing detectives. He told them to be quiet so he could hear me speak. He asked me to describe the hat in detail. I did. He turned to Lewis and asked him if Charles Moss was wearing a hat the night he went missing. Lewis had not heard me describe my case. When Alderman told him I recovered a cowboy hat with fresh blood on it, he listened. Alderman asked if Lewis still had a photo of Moss wearing a cowboy hat. It was in Lewis’ office. The hair on the back of my neck stood up as I looked at Charles L. Moss in a color photo wearing the exact hat I recovered three nights earlier. Alderman asked where was the hat I collected at my scene. It was in the I.D. office awaiting shipment to the crime lab. We quickly went to the I.D. office and found the brown paper sack labeled by L.L. Jackson. We tore open the sack and compared it to the photo. It was a perfect match. We returned to the office and continued the meeting. The commander asked us to form teams. Lewis should take the hat I recovered to Rita Moss’s home to confirm it was her husband’s. Alderman and I hit the streets to arrest Arthur Brown, Terrell Porter and Gregory Means.
Alderman and I went after Brown first who was living in Queensborough. We went to his house and learned he was on a bike down the street. We saw him and arrested him on the spot. We told a group of neighborhood kids to roll his bike back to his house. The thought of the bike being stolen crossed my mind as we handcuffed him and shoved him into the rear seat of my ugly unmarked detective unit. Brown complained his stitches in his rib wound were hurting because his hands were cuffed behind him. We told him it would take us a few minutes to get him to the jail so hang in there for a while.
We booked him and quickly took him to the interview room. He signed his rights card and we commenced to interrogate him. Gary and I let him know we were going to arrest Porter and Means soon. The first one to tell us where Charles Moss was located would be given consideration for cooperating. Brown was arrogant and stupid. He thought about it for a while and bet his life his two buddies would never rat him out. We realized we were wasting our time with Brown. Gary and I both felt Porter or Means would roll over and tell everything. We put Brown in a jail cell and hit the streets again.
The first time we went to Porter’s house, no one was home so we went after Means. He was not home and no one knew where he was. Gary and I went back to Porter’s house and found his mother. We learned he was around the corner at an arcade playing a game. We felt if we rolled up to the Arcade, he would try to run. We asked his mother to drive there and bring him home. A few minutes later, they drove up in the front yard of the little, run down house where they lived. As soon as he stepped from his mother’s car, we arrested him. I advised him of his rights and told him he would spend the rest of his life in the state pen called Angola. We had arrested Brown and soon Means would be in jail also. We only wanted to know where Charles Moss was. He sat in the back seat shaking his head not believing what was happening to him. I told him, one of the three of them would tell the truth and lead us to Charles Moss. He denied any involvement in the whereabouts of Moss. We arrived at the station and took him to my cave. He was given his rights and this time he was not cuffed. He signed the card acknowledging he understood his rights.
He waived his rights and began to give his statement. He gave the same lying statement about the dice game and being shot during the robbery. Gary and I tag teamed him hard. I knew we were on the verge of him confessing. Each time he almost broke down and told the truth, he stopped and went back to the dice game story. Gary and I knew he had never been in jail. We wanted him to see what the rest of his life would be like. We wanted to take his clothes and give him a set of old jail house coveralls and flip flops. We wanted him to hear those steel doors slamming, inmates crying and screaming in the shadows. We wanted him to smell the stinking environment he would live for many years to come. We knew this horrible experience often had an effect on men. Usually they decided to tell the truth in hopes of reducing the years they faced in the system.
We took Porter upstairs using the stairway to the first jail where he would be booked and placed in a cell. We rang the door buzzer and a jailer opened the heavy steel door to allow us to enter. As the door closed, Detective Lewis spotted us. He and Stubblefield were in the interview room with Brown. Lewis rushed to us and asked we take Porter to the back dressing room so Porter and Brown would not see one another. We knew if the two suspects saw each other, all they had to do was shake their heads to signal they would not confess. Lewis spoke to Alderman off to the side in a low voice so Porter could not hear him.
Gary and I took Porter to the dressing room at the far end of the jail as Lewis requested. Lewis whispered to Gary that Brown was right on the verge of giving a full confession. We instructed Porter to sit down on an old wooden bench to wait until Lewis finished his interview. I wanted a fresh cup of coffee. I left Gary and Porter alone. I walked by the interview room and looked in as I passed. I saw Brown’s body language. The look on his face told me he was no where close to confessing. It was the same arrogant smirk he had given me and Gary a couple of hours earlier. Lewis and Stubblefield wanted him to confess and they wanted their chance at him.
Gary never drank coffee so I returned with only one for myself. I sat down next to Porter, looked at Gary and he said, ‘”Pat, Porter realizes now that Brown or Means are going to tell the truth. One of them are going to lead us to Moss. He wants to be the one. He is ready to take us to the body. He says they killed Moss and he’s in 12 mile Bayou. He’s ready to go now.”
We walked back to the stairway door and signaled the jailer to open the door. We walked Porter back to our offices and cuffed him once again. Even though our commander worked day shift, he was still in his office this late at night. He knew this case was coming together and would break soon. One of the three suspects would give a confession.
“Hey chief, our guy Porter confessed. They murdered Mr. Moss and dumped his body in 12 mile bayou. He is going to direct us to the body.”
After a quick handshake and commendation from the Chief of Detectives, Gary and I hit the streets with Porter. We learned Mr. Moss was not in the 12 mile bayou. Porter directed Gary to drive north through Allendale toward the Cooper Road area. He told us to turn on Russell Road and after a mile told Gary to turn left on Aline Street. We drove west until the asphalt street ended and turned into a dirt trail. It had been raining in recent days. I noticed the thick red clay mud trail right away. I knew we were heading in the right direction. Porter directed us deep in the wooded area. The woods opened to an overgrown field. He told us to stop short of a large man made lake. He pointed to an area in front of the unit. Gary left the headlights on. Porter walked us to a place where they killed the man. There were fresh gouges in the red mud earth made by the victim and the suspects. Porter said they drove the Caprice to Point Coupe Street near North Market last Saturday night. They wanted money and decided to rob some white person to get it. Porter stated he had his long skinning knife in his scabbard attached to his belt. He had a 22 caliber pistol with him when he, Brown and Means left the Chevy and walked behind Wendy’s on North Market. They saw Moss pull his Monte Carlo behind Wendy’s to the marque to place his order. Moss rolled down his driver’s window and looked at the menu board. He spoke to a lady taking his order. Porter stated Moss was looking away from him. Brown snatched the unlocked passenger’s door open. Porter jumped in the car pointing the gun at Mr. Moss’s face. Brown slid into the front seat next to Porter and Means jumped into the back seat.
Porter told Mr. Moss to drive and he did. Porter was in charge and gave Moss every turn to make. They pulled on to the pothole filled muddy trail heading to the lake. Porter told Mr. Moss to stop the car and kill the engine. He told Mr. Moss to hand over his wallet. He did. Porter passed it to Brown to get out the money. Brown told Porter it only contained a single five dollar bill. Porter demanded Moss produce more money. Mr. Moss told him all he had on him was the five dollars. Porter told Moss if he did not come up with more money, he would kill him. Moss began to plead with Porter. He told Porter he had a wife and five children and did not want to die. They needed him. Please do not kill him. Regardless, he was a dead man.
At that moment, Mr. Moss suddenly grabbed the gun barrel and shoved it toward the chest of Porter. The gun went off and Porter was shot in the upper left chest. Moss opened the door and began to flee on foot. He was heading back toward Aline street in total darkness. He was trusting his instincts on the right direction but stumbled into a deep pothole. Brown was on him instantly. Mr. Moss was face down being held by Brown when Porter arrived. Porter had his long knife and began to stab Mr. Moss on the back of his neck and upper back. With Brown holding Moss down, Porter repeatedly raised the knife over his head and drove it into Moss. At one point, Porter went astray with his blow and came down across the ribs of Brown. Means stood by and watched. When Porter stopped stabbing Mr. Moss, he was dead. He ordered Means to remove his boots and belt. Means placed the items on the ground and helped drag Moss 100 feet to the edge of the lake. Someone had dumped a broken out concrete driveway nearby. There was a large mound of broken chunks of concrete with embedded wires attached. The three suspects wrapped several large chunks of concrete to Moss and pushed him in the water hoping to sink his body.
Once the body was discarded, they got in the victim’s car and drove to pick up their Caprice. Porter drove the victim’s car. Means and Brown drove the Caprice from Point Coupe. They headed to a Shell gas station at the corner of North Hearne Avenue and the Shreveport Blanchard Road. Means found an empty antifreeze jug in the trunk of the victim’s car. He used the five dollars to buy a six pack of beer and a gallon of gas in the jug. They drove the victim’s car outside the city limits on the R.C. Thompson Road and poured the gallon of gas on the interior of the car. They tossed a match on it and headed home. They drove to the 1900 block of Myrtle and asked friends to call an ambulance for their wounds.
Gary and I shined out lights in the dark brown water and spotted Mr. Moss about 10 feet from the bank. His body was several feet deep under the surface of the water. We could see enough to know it was the body of Charles L. Moss. We called the Chief of Detectives to the scene. I asked permission to call L.L. Jackson to the scene even though he was on his off days. He was my friend and the best I.D. guy we had. I had forgiven his little issues with me a few days earlier. I wanted the best crime scene guy on the force to make this call. I knew he would want to finish the case he started three nights ago. Within minutes, the Chief of Police, Chief of Detectives and numerous detectives and crime scene officers were swarming the scene. Our large mobile crime scene truck was called to the location to set up and process the scene. L.L. rolled up 20 minutes later. He walked up to me in front of the Chief of Detectives and gave me a big hug. He said, “I love you man”, and went to work.
Porter was taken to the station and booked into the jail. Gary and I went to the jail and had him placed in the interview room. He gave a full confession and tried to take credit for everything. The gaps in his story were very weak. He tried to cover for Brown and Means but we nailed him to the wall.
Means was now in custody and I had my second chance at him. Gary and I spent little time getting him to give a full detailed confession. Brown never confessed and he paid for his arrogance in court months later. Brown was convicted by a jury and received life in prison. Porter was convicted and received life in Angola. Means was offered 12 years to roll over and testify against his buddies. He turned the offer down from the D.A. and was convicted by a jury. He was sentenced to 40 years at hard labor.
When Porter, Brown and Means carjacked Charles Moss, they kidnapped, robbed and murdered a decent man for only five bucks. They took the love of Rita’s life and the father of her two daughters, Kathy, age 4, her sister Kristy, age 3, and his step children, Karen, age 16, Ronda, age 14 (Her birthday was the 28th while Charles was still missing) and Kim, age 13.
From the Author:
Charles L. Moss, at age 16, became the father figure in his family. His father abandoned his mother leaving him, his younger brothers Robert, Joseph and sister Melanie alone. He was a great athlete at Byrd High School. He was on the track team and highly rated in the state. He ran home from school each day due to lack of transportation from Byrd High School to Cherokee Park in north Shreveport. He got up early and delivered newspapers on his route. When he got home from school, he changed clothes and worked at a neighborhood gas station. He took care of his Mom, sister and two little brothers. He did his best to fill the void his father left behind. He spoiled his little brothers and his dear sister. He became the only daddy they really knew. He was very good at it. He never had a cross word with anyone. Everyone love and respected him. He was a hard worker and skilled in drilling fresh water wells. He loved his wife and children. They were all that mattered in his life. He was happy in his marriage and blessed with a loving family.
He was the kind of man that would have given the very shirt off his back to a stranger. If, on the night of his murder, the three young men had approached him and asked for his money, he would have given it to them. He had a big heart and cared for mankind. If ever there was a good man, his name was Charles L. Moss.
Brown, Porter and Means could have just pulled a gun on him and demanded his money, but they were filled with hate and wanted to hurt an innocent man. They purposely selected a white man as their target. Not only were they hate filled murderers, they were racists as well.
Their greed and hate cost Rita Moss everything in her life. They robbed Charles and they robbed his children of proms, walking those girls down the aisle, teaching them to ride a bike, to whistle, to play ball, to love others, to drive and to be at graduations, birthdays and Christmas. These thugs took everything from an innocent family. These little girls never had a chance to know their Daddy. These men took everything. The wounds they caused will never heal in this life.
Writing this story is hard for me. For many years, I have struggled with the day I would sit down to write it. My struggle in no way comes close to the struggle Rita and her precious children face each and every day. My heart goes out to each of them. I have a special connection deep within me. As long as I live, I will love and respect this innocent family. One day I will meet Charles L. Moss in heaven. I plan to hug his neck and tell him I love him like L.L. taught me to do many years ago.