Tuesday, October 9, 2012

John Bryan Moore Is Headed Home - Again

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

John Bryan Moore ran away from home in Riverside, California, in the winter of 1986-87 at the tender age of just sixteen.   A short time later he was discovered living in Los Angeles, so his name was taken off of a national registry of missing persons.  But he didn't go home.

From Los Angeles, the young man made his way to Florida where he resided for a time in the community of Palmetto.  Sometime in the spring of 1987 he began making his way back toward California.  He called relatives from Louisiana and told them that he was headed home.  But he never arrived.

Moore's sister, Joella, said that she often wondered what had become of her brother over the years.  His father and mother, living separately, did not move nor change their phone numbers after their son went missing - in hopes that he would one day either walk up to one of their front doors or dial an old, familiar telephone number.  Joella said that her hope was that he had started his life over somewhere.

This week the family of John Bryan Moore learned what had happened to their loved one.  Moore was hitchhiking through the western United States and was indeed headed back to his family in Riverside.  Somewhere he had gotten a ride with a good Samaritan and was driving the man's sedan on Interstate 10 near Phoenix, Arizona, on June 18, 1987, when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed.    Young Moore was dead at the scene.

He had a duffel bag with him that had a label with the name "Brian Moore" and an address in Florida.   That was not enough for an identification, and the young man was laid to rest in a pauper's grave in Tempe, Arizona, where he was officially known as John Doe 87-13337.

John Bryan Moore was just one of two hundred unknown individuals buried in Maricopa County, Arizona.   Last year the Maricopa County Medical Examiner got a grant from the National Institute of Justice - part of the U.S. Department of Justice - to investigate identities of forty of those unknowns.  Steve Leon, a relentless investigator for the Medical Examiner, contacted 37 agencies in the effort to identify John Doe 87-13337.  The boy's body was exhumed to allow for dental work to be examined and DNA samples taken.  When a tentative identification was made, investigators contacted family members in California to obtain DNA from them.  That led to a positive identification and resolution of one of two hundred cases.

Detective Leon said "I was determined to work this case until every lead was exhausted."

John Bryan Moore's father and sister came to Phoenix yesterday where they met with the press and made arrangements to help John complete his final trip back to Riverside.    The family was glad to have closure, even if the news was not the result they had hoped for over all of those years.   Joella, the sister, said, "I can't tell you at a family level how much this means to us."

May this young hitchhiker rest in peace, and may his family find serenity in finally having the knowledge of what became of their son and brother.

Good work, Detective Leon. 

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