History of Abuse Looms in Md. Case

Bethany Moore, 17, continues to mourn her mother, who was killed Dec 31. Behind her is Buckmaster's, a restaurant run by her mother's ex-boyfriend.
Bethany Moore, 17, continues to mourn her mother, who was killed Dec 31. Behind her is Buckmaster's, a restaurant run by her mother's ex-boyfriend. (By James A. Parcell -- The Washington Post)
By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 4, 2006

Bethany Moore takes seven classes as a senior in high school. She works two after-school jobs in the quiet bayside town of Chesapeake Beach, one at McDonald's and another at Subway, where she sat in a booth the other day and shared childhood memories of her mother and her mother's old boyfriend.

"He pushed her face through the air conditioner, and it broke her nose. And then he took her into the back bedroom and, like, started hitting her face into the door, and, like, he put a metal coat hanger around her neck and grabbed it really hard like this and shoved her body in between the door and tried to push the door like that, and it broke her ribs and collapsed her lung. And then he grabbed her by the hair, and he was screaming at me and my brother. And he pulled her outside by her hair and told her to crawl to the fire department."

How old were you at that time?

"Like 9, 10."

Bethany Moore said she witnessed scenes like that throughout her mother's nine-year relationship with Graham D. Buckmaster, which ended about a month before Lisa M. Moore was shot to death -- allegedly by Buckmaster -- on New Year's Eve.

Court records show that since 2000, Buckmaster, 57, of Chesapeake Beach has been charged with assaulting Lisa Moore at least five times, convicted twice and not prosecuted on the other charges. Buckmaster, who runs a seafood restaurant bearing his name, served no prison time for the convictions. After each arrest, he was ordered to stay away from Moore and, on occasion, to get treatment for substance abuse.

Buckmaster's attorney, William Brennan, told The Washington Post that his client intends to plead not guilty to all charges in Moore's death. Beyond that, Brennan declined to discuss the case or his client's background.

In Chesapeake Beach, a waterfront village of 3,000 people where flags flutter from beach cottage porches, lots of people know Buckmaster. His seafood restaurant is a popular place to pick up blue crabs, and some said he could be a charming, good-hearted man. His family has lived in the town for decades, some making a living as watermen on the Chesapeake Bay. A local weekly paper, the Voice of Southern Maryland, began an article on the killing with this: "Graham Buckmaster, one might say, is Calvert County."

Moore, 40, described by co-workers as feisty, perpetually smiling and generous, worked summers at Buckmaster's restaurant. Her record was not unblemished: She had been charged with marijuana possession and driving with an open alcohol container, among other things. In 2000, she was found guilty of trespassing on Buckmaster's property and ordered to stay away from him.

In a Dec. 3 letter seeking a protective order, she told a judge that she had renewed the relationship with Buckmaster because restaurant tips accounted for most of her income, because she wanted Bethany to complete her senior year in Calvert and because she loved him.

"He swore to me on his only son's life that if I would come home he would never let anything he did cause hardship on us again," she wrote. But he "shattered [the promises] by again becoming physically violent with me and this past week he put his hands on my daughter."

To Bethany, 17, Buckmaster was her mother's curse. The beatings of her mother were so common and Bethany's fear of them so pervasive, she said, they defined even their pleasant moments together. When they would watch "Dr. Phil" on TV after school, her mom liked to say that it was amazing Bethany turned out so normal despite what she'd seen and that Bethany should tell her story on the show.

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