Investigators have identified the body of Kathleen Moore, a 34-year-old Florida woman whose disappearance last week led to a search in west-central Florida and a murder charge against her boyfriend after discarded, bloody evidence from his home was found in a dumpster at his workplace.
“We have the evidence. We have Kathleen now. If he wants to make a positive difference in someone’s life, help the family out now and answer their questions,” Sheriff Chris Nocco said during a news conference Tuesday evening. “That’s the only thing he can do that would be a positive.”
Investigators described Knapp in their initial interviews as uncooperative and “very cold,” Nocco said. Investigators said Moore’s body was discovered without Knapp’s help.
Moore was identified by her tattoos, and her body was “definitely covered on purpose,” Nocco said.
With Moore’s body identified, several questions remain unanswered, including Moore’s cause of death and whether Knapp will face additional charges. It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether Knapp had an attorney.
Moore was last seen late Nov. 28 at Knapp’s home in New Port Richey, a town 35 miles northwest of Tampa. The couple left in Knapp’s Cadillac and met friends at a bar where Nocco said they were seen arguing. It was the last night friends said the normally plugged-in Moore posted to social media or replied to text messages. Two days later, a homeless man found Moore’s cracked cellphone while rummaging through a dumpster outside a pharmacy and answered when it pinged, prompting loved ones to report Moore as missing.
According to the criminal complaint, Knapp told investigators that Moore returned home with him shortly after midnight on Nov. 29 and that after the two argued over food, Moore took her backpack and left. A short time later, Knapp went to his workplace to “complete a meat inventory order” around 1:30 a.m.
Nocco said surveillance footage never showed Moore leave Knapp’s home and pointed to several other inconsistencies in his story, including whether Moore left his home on foot or was picked up by someone.
Bloody evidence recovered from a dumpster outside the restaurant where Knapp worked eventually led police to consider him the prime suspect. Investigators found garbage bags with Moore’s credit card, car keys, clothing she wore the night of her disappearance and bedding from Knapp’s home. The blood was later matched to Moore, and the amount of it on the recovered items suggested to investigators that she was dead, according to the criminal complaint. Knapp was arrested Monday.
Before Moore’s remains were identified Tuesday, Jessica Brumett struggled to speak of her best friend of 23 years in the past tense. Brumett and her family had spent Saturday searching a wooded area for Moore and on Sunday handed out fliers to draw attention to her disappearance.
“She is someone who does matter. Just because somebody’s not an influencer, a politician or a celebrity, they [still] matter,” Brumett told The Washington Post, referencing the ways cases of missing Black women draw less attention than those of White women. Moore was Black.
Friends described Moore as funny and vivacious, a onetime tomboy who loved sports and the rapper Drake. Moore like to party, Brumett said, but she also had strong ambitions, recently finishing training as a phlebotomist at Southern Technical Institute, wanting to enroll in the Galen College of Nursing in St. Petersburg and hoping to become a nurse.
Brumett last saw her friend at Thanksgiving, when Moore helped Brumett’s mother prepare the holiday meal. Knapp arrived at the end of their evening, only briefly overlapping with Brumett before she left. In hindsight, Brumett agonizes over red flags in the couple’s relationship she and others may have missed.
“I should have known because she was so worried about me approving of him, which should have been a sign,” Brumett said, crying.
Nocco said Knapp has a lengthy record that includes prior arrests and allegations of drug possession and domestic violence with other women. The sheriff, who described Moore’s death as stemming from domestic violence, urged anyone in a bad relationship to get out and get help.
“Please use Kathleen’s life,” Nocco said. “Maybe the sacrifice she went through can save someone else.”