Home invasion shatters Md. family's sense of security

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 22, 2009

Even though they rented, the Moores considered their Seat Pleasant townhouse their first real home.

There was a sense of safety and stability inside those walls on Daimler Drive, said Aleta Moore. Her husband, Yaphet Moore, had been raised next door, and he always wanted to bring his family back to the place where he had so many fond memories, she said.

But just before 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, that sense of security was shattered when three masked men, one armed with what appeared to be a MAC-10 machine pistol and another with a Desert Eagle handgun, kicked in the door, tied up the family and made off with $70, a laptop computer and every family member's cellphone, Aleta Moore and police said.

The robbers beat Yaphet Moore with a gun and trash can, threatened to kill his son and nephew and then left after holding the family hostage for almost 20 minutes, Aleta Moore said.

"I was just begging, 'Please, don't hurt anybody. Just take whatever,' " she said. "We just kept telling them we didn't have money."

Investigators said they did not think that the Moores, who are both group home counselors, were targeted or that they knew the men who robbed them, said Officer Henry Tippett, a spokesman for the Prince George's County police. He said the motive for the attack appeared to be robbery.

"It didn't look like they were in there for drugs or anything," Tippett said.

Most everyone in the house was asleep when the robbers kicked in the door, yelling "Police!" as they made their way inside, Aleta Moore and Tippett said.

Aleta Moore, 34, said that she and her husband, 36, were in one room, that their nephew, 19, and son, 16, were in another and that their cousin, 32, and her daughter, 10, were in a third. She said the robbers kept them separated in those rooms, binding her and her husband with cords and the rest of the family with tape and threatening to kill the children if the adults did not produce valuables.

"It was like my heart just left my body when I heard him talking about doing something to one of my kids," she said. "I was just praying that they didn't hurt anyone."

Yaphet Moore began pleading for his family, Aleta Moore said, telling the robbers: "Do whatever to me. Just don't hurt nobody else." At various points, she said, one robber flashed a knife and beat Yaphet Moore with a gun and trash can.

The men eventually left with the cash and electronic devices, Aleta Moore said. She said that no family member recognized any of the attackers' voices and that the men apparently did not know whom they were dealing with. One of the men incorrectly assumed that her nephew was her son, she said.

Aleta Moore said her only theory is that the robbers saw the expensive 24-inch rims on her husband's truck and decided to see what was inside the house.

"We don't do anything. We work hard. We come home," Aleta Moore said.

Residential robberies have been of particular concern to Prince George's police this year. The county has recorded 119 such incidents to date, compared with 91 at the same time last year.

Police said there were no particular suspects in the case, only vague descriptions of the two masked men who had the most contact with the Moores. Investigators think the men might have fled in a compact car, Tippett said.

Aleta Moore said she no longer feels safe in the family's home.

"This was supposed to be a memorable, exciting time in our marriage and our lives," she said. "They turned that into a nightmare."

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