Search For Answers In East Haven Continues, Police Say – Hartford Courant
EAST HAVEN â€” Neither the police nor the medical examiner will release the names of the children found dead in a Strong Street house Tuesday amid the strong odor of natural gas.
Each organization said Thursday that it is waiting for information from the other as the investigation into the deaths continues.
“I know a lot of people are looking for answers right now,” said Sgt. Stephen Paulson. “But we are as well.”
“These guys have been working diligently since the incident occurred, and getting very little rest,” he said of the department’s three-member detective division.
Police also would not release the name of the woman found in a house with the two children. The woman had threatened suicide, according to 911 tapes released Wednesday.
A distraught friend of the woman called police from outside the front door of the house at 541 Strong St., saying she feared for the woman’s safety and was unsure about the children’s.
“My friend sent me a letter saying that she was going to kill herself and her mom is the beneficiary,” the caller tells the dispatcher, her voice breaking. When the dispatcher asked if she could see the children, the woman said, “They’re lying down in the house. The door’s locked.”
Two children were found dead inside the Cape Cod-style house, which smelled strongly of gas. Police are calling the deaths “suspicious.”
Officers responded to 541 Strong St. about 2:40 p.m. and found a 6-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy dead. Their mother was injured and despondent, police said. None of them was identified.
According to town assessment records, the owner of the house is LeRoya D. Moore, 36. Court records indicate Moore has three children, two who are elementary-school age and one teenager.
The records identify the father of the younger children as Michael Moore of Bridgeport, LeRoya Moore’s ex-husband. He was clearly shaken and spoke briefly with The Courant Wednesday morning. “I’m trying to do right by my kids,” he said. He declined to comment further.
LeRoya Moore, court records indicate, is scheduled to appear later this month in court on charges that she assaulted Michael Moore. 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 an incident 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, a driver in an unknown vehicle began beeping the horn and flashing the lights. 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,” court records say.
She asked Moore why it took so long or him to pick up the children and he replied that he had been working overtime, records indicate. She then struck Moore “three times with a clenched fist to his forehead area.” She then fled, court records say. Both children were inside the vehicle during the altercation.
“Michael stated that LeRoya was mainly upset because her plans to attend a party” at the casino were interrupted, records say. Moore told police that he is divorced from LeRoya Moore but they share custody of the children.
The state Department of Children and Families was contacted and a family violence offense report was completed. Police then issued an arrest warrant for LeRoya Moore. On April 15, a Superior Court judge issued a protective order against LeRoya Moore.
When DCF was contacted, case workers investigated. Contacted Wednesday, DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt said the agency would have no comment on where that investigation led.
“As is usual in the case of a death under these circumstances, the Department is carefully reviewing its involvement with the family to see what can be learned and how we can improve our work in the future,” Kleeblatt said in a statement.
Marlon Graham, the father of Moore’s teenage son, said he and his son were devastated when police called him Tuesday to tell him about the tragedy.
He declined to say what police told him and instead discussed Moore’s efforts in recent years to move beyond a troubled life and into the role of a caring provider to her children, strides that culminated with her recent purchase of the East Haven home.
“She worked hard to provide a good life for those kids. She put her nose to the grindstone to make those children happy. She really loved them.”
Graham said Moore “went through hard times” in her life, starting in the days when she was in foster care.
“She went through a lot then,” Graham said, but he would not elaborate.
Court records show that LeRoya Moore, under her maiden name of LeRoya White, was arrested four times from 2001 to 2006 on child-endangerment charges. On Dec. 11, 2006, LeRoya White was convicted of risk of injury to a minor and sentenced to five years’ probation. A jail sentence of eight years was suspended.
“She turned her life around, she progressed and made a stable life for those kids,” Graham said. “She is not a monster, she is a loving mother.”
Graham said he and his son went to Moore’s home on Monday to pick up a few items for his son. There was no answer when they knocked on the door but Graham said he could hear someone moving around inside.
“I figured she just didn’t want to be bothered,” Graham said. He said he received a text from Moore later that said she was at work.
Graham said Moore works at Yale University but he did not know her job title. A Yale spokesperson said the university’s human resources department verifies employment but a required email request to obtain that information from the employee services department was not replied to Wednesday.
Officials did not disclose cause of death for the children, who they said likely had been inside the house for at least 24 hours. Police say they believe the gas was deliberately turned on.
“We’re still waiting to positively identify the children and notify the rest of the family,” Paulson said Thursday. Paulson, who works for the department’s records division, said he believes the detectives are waiting for information from the state medical examiner’s office.
“I think they have a good idea who’s involved but I think they want to be positive about everything they have before any further information is released,” he said.
An employee of the medical examiner’s office said they were “waiting for the police” before they release any information about the children.