Mother Of Children Found Dead Had Prior Abuse Conviction – Hartford Courant
The mother of two children found dead in an East Haven home Tuesday was convicted of child abuse and had two other children removed from her custody in 2006 after police said she repeatedly beat her 4-year-old daughter with the handle of a sponge mop, according to court documents and state child protection officials.
It was the second child endangerment-related conviction for LeRoya Moore within five years. In 2001, Moore, who at the time went by her maiden name White, was convicted of reckless endangerment, a charge that had been reduced from a more serious charge of risk of injury to a minor, court records show.
In the 2006 case, an investigator with the state Department of Children and Families met Meriden police at the preschool that Moore’s daughter attended, putting Moore on the radar of state child protection authorities as far back as nine years ago. DCF investigated Moore again in 2014 following her arrest in connection with an assault on her former husband, Michael Moore.
On Thursday, East Haven police said they were continuing to investigate the deaths of the children, identified by their father, Michael Moore, as Daaron Moore, 7, and his 6-year-old sister, Aleisha. There have been no charges in the case and police have not identified the woman found in the home with the children. There have been no criminal abuse charges against LeRoya Moore in connection with the deceased children.
Michael Moore told News 12 and other media outlets in Bridgeport on Thursday that Daaron was a “fun-loving 8-year-old boy” who loved life “to the fullest.” Aleisha, he said, excelled at everything she did. “She was very wise beyond her years,” he said.
Police were called to the family’s home Tuesday after LeRoya Moore, 36, contacted a friend and said she had tried to commit suicide. The friend went to the home because she was concerned about the safety of Moore and her children.
While on the phone with a 911 operator, the friend was asked if she could see the children. The woman said, “They’re lying down in the house. The door’s locked.”
The Moore children were found dead inside the house, which smelled strongly of gas. Police are calling the deaths “suspicious” and said that the three-member detective division is working round-the-clock.
“I know a lot of people are looking for answers right now,” East Haven police Sgt. Stephen Paulson said. “But we are as well. These guys have been working diligently since the incident occurred, and getting very little rest.”
A spokeswoman for the chief state medical examiner’s office said Thursday that there was no information to release.
“This is a high-profile case,” she said. “Police are still investigating and we are waiting for the OK from them to release any information.”
Moore bought the $220,000 home on Strong Street in East Haven in 2014 with a $4,000 down payment. Marlon Graham, the father of Moore’s 17-year-old son, said Wednesday that Moore worked for Yale University but the school has yet to confirm that employment. LeRoya Moore had posted numerous pictures of the two children to her Facebook page.
At the time of the 2006 abuse case, three children were living with LeRoya Moore. DCF removed all three children from the home. LeRoya Moore’s parental rights were terminated in regard to the two youngest children. The oldest, a boy who was 9 at the time, was placed under the legal guardianship of his father.
“At that time, there were no other children in the home,” DCF said in a statement.
The 2006 case began when police were called to The Right Place preschool in Meriden after employees there contacted DCF when a teacher noticed “numerous bruises” on Moore’s 4-year-old daughter, according to court records.
The DCF worker, identified as Yvette Cortez, observed the bruises and said the girl told her that her mother “had beat her with the happy stick for spilling her juice and screaming,” the records said.
Police said the girl and her two brothers described the “happy stick” as a sponge mop with “a smiley face” that their mother had drawn on one side and a sad face on the other, records said.
Although the criminal charge was related to the 4-year-old daughter, police throughout the arrest warrant expressed concern for the safety of Moore’s two sons, then aged 9 and 3. The older boy told police that he saw Moore on Sept. 29, 2006, hitting his sister with the stick “10 to 15 times” as the child cried.
He said that Moore beat his sister with the stick “two or three times a day,” records said. The boy said that his little brother was beaten with the stick “twice a week” and, in one instance, after the 3-year-old had urinated on the living room rug, Moore picked up the boy and “slammed” him onto the floor “causing him to cry.”
The 9-year-old boy told detectives he was afraid that Moore “was going to hurt” his younger brother and sister.
Moore was originally charged with risk of injury to a minor, cruelty to persons and third-degree assault. In a plea deal, she pleaded guilty to the risk of injury charge on Dec. 11, 2006, and received an eight-year suspended sentence and five years of probation. The conditions of her probation included that she undergo a psychiatric evaluation and treatment, parenting classes, anger management and that she cooperate with DCF.
The following year, LeRoya White married Michael Moore. The couple started a new family with the birth of Daaron in June 2007. Aleisha was born in 2009.
LeRoya Moore filed for divorce in January 2012. They reached an agreement in 2012 to share custody of the children, with the mother’s home as their primary residence. Michael Moore, who at the time was working at Schick of Milford, would get the children on alternating weekends and holidays, court records said.
The arrangements of the divorce, however, turned violent last fall. LeRoya Moore is scheduled to appear later this month in court on charges that she assaulted Michael Moore while he had the children. According to a court file at Superior Court in New Haven, Moore was charged with breach of peace in the second-degree and third-degree assault stemming from a confrontation on Sept. 26.
Michael Moore told police he picked up his two children at King Robinson Magnet School in New Haven that day and as he was leaving the school, Moore pulled up in a vehicle and began beeping the horn and flashing the headlights, according to court records. He said he pulled over on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard and LeRoya Moore went toward his vehicle “in an extremely hostile manner and began swearing and making a scene in the middle of the roadway,” the records said.