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Stepdaughter charged in murder case, evidence released

RENSSELAER, Ind. (WLFI) – Judy Moore, 68, has now been officially charged with the murder of her 77-year-old stepmother Trula Alliss.

Police say among the evidence linking Moore to the crime includes DNA, voicemails, new clothing, along with some odd behavior.

It’s news that Alliss’ friends like Joe McKay have been waiting on for almost an entire month.

“I hope she goes away for a long time,” he said.

Twenty-seven days after police found the body of Alliss, Moore, her stepdaughter and primary caretaker, was walking out of the Jasper County Courthouse in handcuffs, charged with the crime. She covered her face to cameras and didn’t say a word.

“I guess you could say it was a messy crime scene,” said Rensselaer Police Chief Jeffrey Phillips.

Alliss’ body was found in Apartment 52 in a building in Rensselaer’s Serenity Terrace apartment complex. It’s just a short walk to Moore’s apartment, number 26, in a building nearby.

Phillips said that Moore’s story to them had some omissions over the course of several conversations.

“You’ll see things (in the probable cause affidavit) that she told us about that we could prove otherwise. There are a couple of things that made us suspicious,” said Phillips.

According to court documents, Moore’s story is that on Feb. 3, two days before the body was found by a neighbor, she went over to Alliss’ apartment to review a grocery list. In a second conversation, she admitted she told Alliss she was moving to Georgia. Alliss got upset and Moore left, before later going to a store. The news of the move to Georgia was something that Alliss’ family told police they didn’t know, and is something that would upset Alliss because new caretaking arrangements would have needed to be made.

“The apartment told us a lot,” said Phillips. “The door was unlocked. I think that was part of it.”

It’s something that others said Alliss never did unless there was someone that she knew who was coming over.

Among the key pieces of evidence, nothing was missing from the apartment, including money, credit cards and pain medications. Moore got a new black jacket and new white shoes in the days after the murder, with police not being able to locate the old ones. Moore said she gave the jacket away to a secondhand store.

Also, items that Moore and Alliss had agreed that Moore would receive in the event of Alliss’ death, including a birthstone ring and a car, Moore no longer wanted. Police said Alliss had eight unchecked voicemail messages dating back to the time of her death, including three from Moore, one made just six minutes after she left. But in those two days, she didn’t visit her stepmother, which police say is rare for someone who would usually stop by daily.

According to court records, when a friend got suspicious that a flyer hadn’t been moved from Alliss’ door after two days, Alliss said she would stop by the next day. Then, when a friend first found Alliss’ body, Moore said she couldn’t call the police or an ambulance because she had the flu. Then it took the 911 operator several tries to get Moore to go and speak with an officer.

“It seems like odd behavior to us, but police are suspicious of everybody,” said Phillips. “So to us, it was just odd behavior.”

According to court documents, crime scene technicians said that the suspect hit Alliss repeatedly in the head but was unable to knock her to the ground. The autopsy revealed Alliss was hit about nine times, but had no damage to her skull or brain, another indicator a weaker person might be the attacker.

Later, Moore’s DNA was identified under Alliss’ fingernails.

“There were a number of things that helped us with the case,” said Phillips.

McKay says Alliss had been a part of the American Legion Auxiliary and for years had helped volunteering at various events including the annual Thanksgiving dinner.

“The community has lost a heck of a nice citizen. I just wish there were a lot more people like her that were willing to pitch in and help like Trula always was,” he says.

Phillips wouldn’t say what weapon he believes Moore used in the attack and where it was found.

Moore faces three charges: murder, aggravated battery and battery resulting in serious bodily injury. She is currently in the Jasper County Jail and unable to bond out of jail.

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