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Crime News Murders

Accused Killer Allegedly In Possession Of Pregnant Woman’s Body Found Not Competent To Stand Trial

Investigators believe Torrey Moore shot a convenience store employee to death before fleeing to his apartment, where police found the decomposing body of pregnant woman Denise Middleton. 

By Jax Miller
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A man accused of killing a convenience store clerk and then leading authorities to the decomposing remains of a heavily-pregnant woman is not fit to stand trial, according to prosecutors.

Torrey Moore, 31, is currently charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony for the Dec. 8 murder of convenience store employee Ayalew Wondimu, 61. Wondimu was shot to death at the Dash In convenience store, part of a Shell gas station in the Washington D.C. suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland.

Moore then allegedly fled to his nearby home, where on Dec. 9, Montgomery County police found the body of a woman who “was in a very advanced stage of pregnancy,” State’s Attorney John McCarthy said in a press conference on Monday.

Last week, Montgomery County officials identified the victim as 26-year-old Denise Middleton. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) confirmed the woman was 38 weeks pregnant and was believed to have died in October after being “shot multiple times.”

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The OCME determined the boy “would have lived, had Middleton delivered at that time,” police announced.

On Monday, Torrey Moore appeared before the Honorable Amy Bills at the District Court in Rockville for Montgomery County for a competency hearing, said McCarthy.

Judge Bills heard from Dr. Julie Smith of the Office of Court-Ordered Evaluations and Placements (OCEP) within the state’s Department of Health (MDH), who reported Moore “was currently not competent to stand trial and was also a danger to himself or to others if he was released into the community,” according to McCarthy.

DA John Mccarthy's Press Conference

Bills agreed with Smith’s findings and ruled Moore unfit to stand trial.

So far, Moore is only formally charged with Wondimu’s murder and is being held without bail.

Police previously announced a warrant charging Moore with first-degree murder for Middleton’s death, plus first-degree murder of a viable fetus and a crime of violence against a pregnant person.

McCarthy said though the warrant was “authorized,” it had yet to be served, calling the delay “baffling.” He stated they expect Moore to be officially charged on Tuesday, which is when they hope to release the charging documents to the public.

On Dec. 8, shortly after 3:00 p.m., officers with the Montgomery County Department of Police were called to the Dash In convenience store, where they found Wondimu after he’d sustained multiple gunshot wounds. Wondimu was pronounced dead on the scene.

Police said Moore and Wondimu engaged in a “verbal altercation” that “quickly escalated” when Moore drew his weapon.

Investigators soon tracked Moore to his White Oak apartment, just across the street from the crime scene, where they found Middleton’s body in the bedroom.

“Moore gave statements to detectives that he had been in a relationship with the person located inside the apartment,” said police. “He also stated that the victim was eight months pregnant at the time of her death.”

A police handout of Torrey Moore

On Monday, loved ones stated Middleton reportedly planned to name her unborn son Ezekiel, according to Fox Washington D.C. affiliate WTTG. The family released a statement, which included the hashtag #protectblackwomen.

“Denise was a walking book of positive affirmations. She always said the nicest things about you when she saw you, always complimenting someone and giving out love. If you had a disagreement with her, she would make sure to make things right,” the family statement read, in part. “Denise was so loved by her family and so cared for! We are heartbroken that this was her story and reality."

“We wish our efforts would have brought her back home with us,” the family continued. “Denise and Baby Ezekiel is loved and missed by the Middleton family. Thank you all for your prayers and kind words! This has shaken our family up but has brought us even closer! We will make sure justice is served for her and Baby Ezekiel.”

Relatives told WTTG that Middleton was into fashion, hair and makeup, and was not reported missing.

A preliminary hearing related to Wondimu’s murder was scheduled for Jan. 6. However, the appointment is expected to change in light of the anticipated murder charges and the case being moved from district court to circuit court.

State’s Attorney McCarthy called it “procedural” and stated it wouldn’t significantly change the course of prosecution.

Moore is scheduled for another hearing on June 13 to determine the status of his competency.

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