MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. — A 15-year-old Washington state girl who allegedly killed an early-morning jogger while trying to “bump” him with a Toyota Camry has been charged with the man’s murder.
The SeaTac teen is charged with second-degree murder and felony hit-and-run in the July 18 death of Greg Moore, 53, of Maple Valley. Moore was found dead in a roadside ditch hours after he was struck.
The teen’s name is being withheld because she will be tried as a juvenile, a fact that angers Moore’s widow.
“If she was two-and-a-half months older, she would be automatically tried as an adult because of the severity of the crime,” Michelle Moore told KIRO 7 in Seattle. “A family member (of the suspect) heard the individual laugh about the way Greg’s body flew up in the air when she hit him.”
The girl was charged Tuesday, which would have been Greg and Michelle Moore’s 30th wedding anniversary. The couple’s first grandchild is due in November.
Instead of celebrating those milestones with her husband, Michelle Moore spent part of her anniversary in court for a hearing in the girl’s case. It was the first time Moore had been in the same room as the teen.
“I just wanted to see her face,” Moore told KIRO 7. “I had seen a picture of her, but I had not seen her in person. That was important to me (and) that was important to my family.”
The girl was ordered Tuesday to remain in juvenile detention, the news station reported.
Greg Moore set out early July 18 for a 15-mile jog. His Sunday morning run ended violently around 6:15 a.m. on a tree-lined stretch of road a couple of miles from home.
Michelle Moore got worried when her husband didn’t return from his run.
“I expected him to be sweaty and tired but feeling great and looking forward to the rest of his day,” she wrote on social media last month.
Michelle Moore wrote that she left work around 9:30 a.m., at which point she met up with her in-laws and began looking for her missing husband. As they searched, they came upon a police roadblock.
The deputies told the family they were investigating a fatal hit-and-run pedestrian accident. A passerby had called 911 shortly before 11 a.m. after finding Greg Moore dead across from Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church.
“My world turned upside down,” Michelle Moore wrote.
Greg Moore suffered a fractured skull. According to police, his calves were lacerated where the vehicle struck him from behind.
In the grass around his body were shards of clear plastic from the car’s headlight covering. The broken plastic and surveillance footage of a gray Toyota Camry racing away from the area were initially the only clues.
“This is a tragic case that cost a Maple Valley family their beloved husband, father and son,” King County Sheriff’s Office officials said in a statement a few days later.
As investigators searched for the hit-and-run driver, Michelle Moore, her family and friends begged the public for answers. They established a website, whokilledgreg.com, and started a GoFundMe page, in part, to fund the $35,000 reward they offered for leads in the case.
The 15-year-old, meanwhile, allegedly spent the next seven weeks trying to cover up what she had done.
Charging documents obtained by multiple news outlets, including KIRO 7, indicate that on the morning of the homicide, the girl stole the 2004 Camry from her godmother, with whom she lived in SeaTac. The teen and some friends, including another 15-year-old girl driving her mother’s car, went for a joyride.
The friend riding in the passenger seat of the Camry later told detectives that they spotted Greg Moore up ahead, running on the side of the road.
“I’m going to scare him. I’m going to bump him,” the 15-year-old suspect said, according to court documents.
The girl driving the second car told authorities she heard a loud noise and saw Greg Moore fly through the air. The teen estimated the speed of the Camry to be about 50 mph when the collision took place.
A sign just feet from where Greg Moore’s body landed shows that the speed limit in the residential area is 35 mph.
According to authorities, both cars were spotted on surveillance footage from nearby cameras right after Greg Moore was struck. The cars apparently turned around and returned to where Moore lay before speeding off.
“After fatally striking Greg, she turned around, presumably to see if he had died, and then fled the scene,” Michelle Moore said in a statement Tuesday.
The court documents state that the girl returned the Camry, with a broken headlight, to her godmother’s home. She denied driving the vehicle and told her godmother someone had hit the car with a baseball bat.
A relative of the teen told the car’s owner earlier this month that the girl may have struck someone with the vehicle. Around that same time, the owner saw surveillance images of the car deputies were searching for.
She turned her car over to authorities on Sept. 7. According to KIRO 7, the shards of broken plastic found next to Greg Moore’s body fit like puzzle pieces in the damaged headlight casing of the Camry.
When the girl noticed the Camry was gone from the house, she began arguing with the woman and breaking things in the house, the court records allege. She then fled on foot.
The next day, investigators announced that they had identified a 15-year-old girl as the suspected driver.
The girl, accompanied by her father, turned herself in Sept. 9 at the King County Sheriff’s Office’s SeaTac precinct, KIRO 7 reported.
“Nothing will bring Greg home, but I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the MARR (Major Accident Response and Reconstruction Unit) detectives who have worked this case tirelessly since July,” King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht said in a statement. “I also want to express my gratitude to the Maple Valley community, who refused to let Greg’s memory fade.”
That same community expressed outrage Tuesday after learning that Greg Moore’s killer is being handled as a juvenile. Leading the charge was Moore’s widow.
“It’s asinine to me that they’re claiming that she wanted to ‘bump’ him,” Moore told KIRO 7. “She was going 50 mph. That’s not a bump. That’s a death.”
Authorities told the station that they understand the anger. Casey McNerthney, a spokesperson for the King County Prosecutor’s Office, said the girl’s age and lack of a criminal record made prosecutors lean toward charging her as a juvenile.
In addition, an adult murder charge had a strong likelihood of being reversed by a judge.
“It’s not the justice that everyone wants, but we will be accountable for our decision and, ultimately, we intend to get a conviction here,” McNerthney said.
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