Now, if you remember. 12 Year old Jenipher Junaell Gilbert better known as JJ disappeared thursday september 27th 1984 after a middle school football game while waiting for her step dad to come and pick her up. Her body was found the next day, 10 miles away in Harrah Oklahoma. She was left with only a bra on and her underwear down around her ankles. The same day JJ’s body was found, a man was pulled over a half a mile from the Midwest City Jr. High school.
The Man driving the car was Dewy Moore who lived in Midwest City and at the time, he appeared to be driving to his home which is at a Trailer Park near the school. Now, I know which trailer park they are talking about. This is 36 years later but its a very sketchy place. I believe that there are people still living there but it doesn’t look safe at all. None of the houses that are there look to be in good condition and most of them look to be abandoned.
The police pulled Moore over because the car he was driving was reported stolen the night before. He was arrested and booked into the Midwest City Jail. It was quickly apparent with witness descriptions of the car that was used in the abduction and Moore’s past, that he was going to be the first prime suspect in this case. When he was arraigned, the judge decided to hold Moore on 300 thousand bail so that there was little chance he would be able to get out. This would give the investigators time to look into Moore as a suspect without the worry of him either running away or going out to find another victim.
Now, one of the things that the Harrah Police took note of was the tire tracks that looked fresh near where the killer dumped JJ’s body. It was noted that these tracks could very well be the ones made by the Murderer. Now, the Midwest City Police had a car that they could match up to those tracks and see if they were a perfect match or not. This was high on the list of things to do to see if they could take a step closer to eliminating Moore as a suspect or not.
Another thing the local police decided to do was to enlist the help of the Oklahoma City Police Department in collecting and examining fiber’s that may be found in the car itself. This was top of the line evidence of its time. This is just a couple of years prior to DNA testing being used as evidence in a criminal care and was not considered at this time. What was considered was a 10 thousand dollar polarizing microscope. The Daily Oklahoman had a report by Charles Gaylor that quoted the Police Chemist Janice Davis as saying about the microscope “Before, we could just get the central characteristics of fibers, but the polarizing scope allows us to identify what types of fiber we’re dealing with” “She continues “For example nylon fibers refract differently than rayon fiber. The method shows more conclusively that certain fibers came from the same course. This is especially true if the fiber is from an uncommon source such as a rug manufactured only for a short period of time.”
What was really cool about this microscope was that it was obtained through a joint effort of local agencies with the thought in mind that they would all benefit from it. The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s department made the purchase and it was handled by the lab with the Oklahoma City Police Department. Police Departments in OKlahoma County would now have access to this to better their cases and help put the right people behind bars.
So, one of the things that the police were searching for was JJ’s uniform. It wasn’t near her body and at the time so there were probably several different thoughts on this, the main being that finding it would probably mean that they could find evidence on the uniform to link someone to JJ’s death or they might find it in the possession of the person who did it. Taken almost like a trophy. Either way, it could easily be a smoking gun in this case.
Almost a week after the discovery of JJ’s body, the police have yet to find the pep school uniform. But they do have an announcement to make. A Article in the Daily Oklahoman Written by by Andy Morgan was titled Murder Clues found in bag. This article details two men finding a bag on top of a Breeden’s Grocery on 29th street. Now, it doesn’t state this in the article but I can only assume that the two men who found the bag and altered it to the police were employee’s of the store. Because otherwise, I don’t see why anyone would care about a sack sitting somewhere. The Sunday after the murder, a man notices a sack on top of the breedens grocery store while he was leaving to go home. It was just a normal sack, sitting up there near the AC units. A few days later, the same man notices it again. So he and a friend decide they want to see what’s in the sack. The friend gets on top of the roof, turns the sack over and when he sees what spills out, he immediately asks his friend to call the cops.
What was i n the sack you ask? A Knife, A Belt and some Tape. Now, by the time this was found it was big news in Midwest City that a local man was arrested for murder. He lived just down the road from this store and everyone knew that the police were searching for evidence so naturally, they alerted the police.
This evidence could now be linked with any other evidence that might be found in the car. This was a big win for the police if they could be linked to the killer.
Now 47 year old Dewey Moore was currently waiting in Jail for the case to move forward in the Auto theft. But on the outside, the public were being introduced to 20 year old Dewey Moore and learning of his awful actions of his past. In less than a week the newspapers that were covering the case had a hold of a lot of public information on Moore and they were printing it all.
In 1957, while attending college in Oklahoma City, Moore was charged with attacking a waitress and then robbing her. Moore was found guilty and was sentenced to 5 years in prison but all of those 5 years were suspended. So, he did no prison time. In 1974 Moore was convicted with attempted rape of a 5 year old girl in Midwest City, Oklahoma. He was given a 3 year sentence and was again given a suspended sentence. One year of that was revoked because he when began doing time in Texas for Aggravated Kidnapping and indecency with a child. In 1980 Moore was let out of prison and just months later he was again in jail for attacking and cutting a women with a knife, choking a 9 year old boy and a 11 year old girl, sealing a car and robbery. Moore plead guilty and was sentenced to 3 years in prison for each charge and the sentence would run concurrently so the most time he would do all together would be 3 years. Soon after he was out of prison again, he would quickly remarry and just days after the wedding, he attacked his wife during intercorse and threatened her two children. He spent a year in a half in jail during the trial and was given time served.
He was released in May of 1984. Just months before the murder.
This man, for a lock of a better term was a real ticking time bomb. You can see, not only the type of crimes escalating but the frequency in which they happen as well. 1957, 1974, 1980, 1984. He went from attacking a woman to attempted rape, to kidnapping, to attacking his own wife and threatening the lifes of her children, to possibly murder.
It’s amazing what someone can get away with in the Court System.
12 days after the discovery of JJ’s body the Police charged Dewey Moore with the murder. District Attorney Robert H Macy stated that Moore used his hands to smother JJ to death and that it was such a cruel way to die. Macy also said that this was a case that he was going to personally se thorough and he was seeking the death penalty.
This would be a first in the state of Oklahoma because as of yet, they had not convicted anyone based mainly on fiber and hair evidence. The trial would not be ready to start for almost a year due to the nature of the testing needed to be done by both the proccusion and the defence. Although there was not a lot of evidence, the labs compared fibers found on JJ’s body with those that were in the car that Moore was driving and in his trailer.
When Jury selection came up they had a difficult task finding just about anyone who hasn’t read about the case or had seen it reported on in the local news media. Many of the questions asked by Prosecutor Robery H Macy was if they had what it took to look a man in the face and return a death verdict. The defence asked prospective jurors that if convicted, would they have the courage to sentence for life even though this murder involved a 12 year old girl.
The trial was quick and to the point. The Prosecution brought forward Janice Davis and Joyce Gilcrest who were police chemists for the Oklahoma City Police Department. On the stand, Davis was able to outline 49 places throughout Moor’s car and Home that had hair and fibers that matched those found on JJ’s body. She also stated that the evidence collected in the bag found on top of the grocery store had countless hairs stuck to the tape that was inside.
The percussion rested the case based on this evidence knowing it was very strong. The Jury came back with a Guilty verdict. When the Jury read the verdict, Moore slumped in his chair in defeat. But this was not over, the sentencing phase was about to begin and the percussion brought forward the many women that Moore had wronged throughout his life. The Defence brought forward Moore’s mother who did little besides defend how her and his father raised Dewey as a child.
Moore was sentenced to Death.
Moore answered questions to reporters as he left the courthouse. He called the trial “The best frame Bob Macy ever put up in his life.” He then stated that the police in Midwest City had planted the evidence used against him to convict him.
As crazy as that sounds, almost 14 years later it was those allegations among other real evidence that would reopen this tragic murder case.
In 1999 an affidavit from a mortician who prepared the body of JJ for burial stated that police came and collected har samples from JJ’s body. One of his co-workers who is now dead decided to follow the officers when they left. He told his co-worker that the officers went straight to Moore’s home and then they entered through a window. Shortly after that, the police found the evidence in the home. But most of this was not taken seriously since one of the men is now dead and the other waited so long to say something about it.
What opened the case even further was the fact that Joyce Gilchrist who was a supervisor at the time of JJ’s death also worked and testified on this case. In 2001 it became evident that throughout her 21 year career as a chemist with the Oklahoma City Police Department, she had doctored and destroyed evidence in order to gain a favorable outcome for the prosecution. This case was one of the many that was on the top of this list to be looked into since it was a death penalty case.
Moore was in the process of appealing his sentence when he died in prison in 2004.
The actions of Gilcrest will probably be covered in more detail on another show. But to put it simply, her actions throughout her career put real doubt in every case she worked on, including this one. Moore was a real bad guy. We covered that pretty well. But it’s sad that there will always be this cloud of doubt that will hang over this case. Especially if he was innocent and someone got away with murder.