Peter Moore

Since finding this case I have just had to write about it, this is the one and only serial killer from my part of the world in Wales, United Kingdom. Peter Moore aka “The Man in Black” was active in North Wales in the 90’s.

The Futura Cinema, Denbigh – one of the cinemas Moore ran prior to arrest

Peter Moore was born in 1940 near Rhyl, in Kinmel Bay, Conwy, North Wales he lived there with his mother until her death. Moore was close with his mother and she would call him her “miracle son” due to the fact she fell pregnant with him in her 40s, it is said his relationship with his father was much more strained, Moore was seen as an “effeminate” child and his father would get drunk and abuse him because of this.  In his adult life, Moore was a respected local entrepreneur running a chain of old-style cinemas like the old picture houses.

Moore earned the nickname “The Man in Black” locally as he would dress all in black clothing saying it was “the traditional mode of dress for a theatre worker”. Moore projected a positive image to his local community and was often praised for the Saturday club he set up for children that included entertainment by a matinee children’s film and he would serve the children snacks and refreshments.

Photo of Peter Moore working in his cinema

Despite this image that Moore would project to his community, he was targeting men at night, he would go to gay meeting places across North Wales wearing Nazi caps and leather boots, he would also carry a large knife or a truncheon. Moore was an openly gay man at this point and was constantly looking for ways to exert control over other men, there are reports that while he worked in a local hardware shop, he would dominate other male staff and take them as lovers. From the 1970s to the early 90s Moore would dress in black and hunt men at night, during this period he committed a string of sexual assaults on local men. In 1994 his mother passed away, it is suspected that this event is what triggered the escalation from assaults and violence to brutal murder.

Between September and December 1995 Moore stabbed and mutilated four men “for fun”. Moore’s first victim was 56-year-old John Henry Roberts a retried railway worker who lived in a small isolated farmhouse, Roberts was a Nazi paraphernalia enthusiast that would hang a swastika flag on his cottage. He was a regular in his local pub but had not been seen there for three days, so a friend from the pub went to his cottage to look for him. There was no answer at the door, the friend went around to the back garden to look for Roberts and found him lying face down near an outhouse, his trousers had been pulled down around his ankles and he had been stabbed in his buttocks. Roberts was killed by a stab wound directly to his heart, but the body was covered in stab wounds with fourteen on the front and thirteen on the back.

A major man hunt was launched to find Roberts’ killer, Detective Supt Eric Jones admitted at the time that the police had few clues about a motive for the murder, but they did privately suspect there was a sexual element due to how the body was found and mutilated and the fact Roberts was a gay man. Police noted also that the swastika flag that hung on the cottage had been taken.  The whole area was shocked about the murder and people who knew Roberts would affectionately describe him as the “village eccentric who wouldn’t hurt a fly”.

A month after Roberts’ murder police found the body of 49-year-old Keith Randles, he recently lost his job in middle management so he took a role as a traffic safety officer on the A5 road to Anglesey, he was a father of two daughters from Chester and was describes as “an ordinary, harmless, conscientious man who had a reputation for a shy good humour”. While he worked, he lived in a caravan on a compound alongside the A5, on 29th November 1995 Randles went to a fish and chip shop at 9:30pm and that was the last time he was seen alive. At 2:45am the following morning a witness that was driving on the A5 saw a Ford Transit van near the compound, a few hours later at 7:30am workmen arrived and found Randles’ body near his caravan.

Police suspected there could be a connection to the death of Roberts but had no leads to back this up. Their killer struck again however and two weeks later on 17th December 1995, the body of 35-year-old Tony Davies a local crematorium worker and father of two from Colwyn Bay, North Wales. Davies lived with his wife Sheila and told his wife that he was off to see his auntie who had just been discharged from hospital, he left at 11pm and by 4;30am Sheila grew concerned enough to call his aunt and find out her husband’s whereabouts, his aunt then told her that he had left three hours earlier.  It turned out that after leaving his auntie’s Davies drove to Pensarn Beach a cruising area for gay men. Moore met Davies there and stabbed him six times then leaving him at the water’s edge.

It is important to note that at the time of the murders and investigation views toward gay people were different and often victims of same sex assaults would not come forward as law enforcement aren’t as educated as they are on the subject now. No witnessed to attacks of gay men in North Wales would come forward, but the pressure was on the police to catch the serial killer terrorising a small Welsh town. In desperation the police set up a confidential hotline aimed at the gay community, within the first few days of the hotline being live a name kept coming up, Peter Moore was repeatedly mentioned as someone violent toward gay men, one caller even reported being taken to Moore’s house six months prior and being tortured, but hadn’t told anyone because of the shame he felt.

On 21st December 1995 detectives turned up at Moore’s house, they found a whole range of sexual equipment including handcuffs, rubber gags, chintz curtains, a pair of fluffy toy kittens on a bed, a Nazi flag and military uniforms. The walls of the house were decorated with Christmas cards, crackers were out on the sideboard and two copies of the Daily Post were found both had the front-page story on the murder of Tony Davies. When they searched Moore’s bedroom, they found a police helmet, German military caps, a pair of long black boots, a truncheon alongside the bed and a sergeant’s uniform was hung in the wardrobe.

Moore happily confessed the murders to police, he even gave the name of his second victim 28-year-old Edward Carthy who had not yet been found. Carthy had been killed a month after Roberts’ murder when Moore was searching for another victim in a Liverpool gay bar. It was revealed that Carthy was a drug addict from Birkenhead near Liverpool. Carthy wanted Moore to drive him to his home in Birkenhead for sex, but Moore drove him to North Wales, Carthy realised he was being abducted he desperately tried to escape Moore’s van while he was driving, Carthy was stabbed four times and buried in a dense forest, Moore drew police a diagram locating the body, Moore sniggered while he told the police about how terrified Carthy had been saying “I think he got a bit frightened, actually”.

During police interviews Moore was asked whether the killing gave him sexual pleasure, Moore replied “Yes, there is a certain excitement from it, but it certainly wasn’t sexual excitement…like everything it was a job well done.” They asked why he had begun killing and he said it was the death of hi mother, his two dog, his cat and some of his koi carp had pushed him over the edge he said “Death literally seemed to be following me” and the act of killing left him with a feeling of peace, he said numerous times he missed his mother “dreadfully”. It was also uncovered that in 1995 before the murders Moore had become fixated on the fictional serial killer Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th franchise.

Moore’s trial started at Mold Crown Court in November 1996, barrister Alex Carlile QC told the jury as he opened the prosecution against Moore “The man in black – black thoughts and the blackest of deeds”. The prosecution said that Peter Moore was “one of the most dangerous people ever to have set foot in Wales”. Moore was on trial for the four murders that he confessed to, but claims were made about the years he spent assaulting men, there’s speculation that he attacked more that 50 men in what the judge described as “20 years of terror”.  Moore’s defence barrister Eric Somerset Jones QC said, “I hold no brief for Moore’s way of life, on his own admission he is a bad man”.

The court heard of how Moore found his victims, Roberts was just unlucky as his house was located just off Moore’s route home from one of his cinemas, Roberts protested that he was not Jewish as Moore launched 27 blows with a combat knife, he had bought a few days earlier. Randles was also killed for the fact he was on one of the routes that Moore took to get home, Randles opened the door of his caravan late that night and was attacked by Moore, Randles was stabbed 12 times, Moore said that Randles begged for his life for the sake of his grandchildren, and asked Moore why, to which he replied “I just said, fun!” Moore took Randles’ video recorder and his mobile phone as trophies. Moore told detectives that he had been cruising the area when he chose Tony Davies, he saw Davies get out of his car, light a cigarette and walk to the edge of the water, he said that when he got there Davies’ trousers were around his ankles exposing himself “I just took the knife out and stabbed him, I think he screamed and shouted a bit” Moore killed him with six stab wounds. When police searched Moore’s home, they found items belonging to all of the victims in the house and in the garden pond, a duffel bag belonging to Davies was found in the house and his car keys in the pond, a knife bearing traces of blood from a number of men was found in a bag belonging to Moore. When giving evidence Moore claimed that the murders were committed by a homosexual lover he nicknamed “Jason” after the killer he was fixated on from Friday the 13th.

There was a jury of 8 men and 4 women and they took just two hours and thirty-five minutes to find him guilty. Mr Justice Maurice Kay said after recommending that Moore spends the rest of his life in prison: “You were responsible for four sadistic murders in the space of three months, none of the victims had done you the slightest bit of harm. At no stage have you shown the slightest remorse or regret for the killings, nor the twenty years of terror and violence that preceded them. I consider you to be as dangerous a man as it I possible to find. I shall have to report to the Secretary of State advising him of my view as to the earlier date that you should be considered for release. I don’t want anybody else to be in the slightest doubt as to what I shall say. In a word: Never”

Moore showed himself to be a vain man, he was warned in court for his insolence and it is reported that when he arrived at court and entered the gates he posed for the cameras.

Edward Carthy’s stepmother Lynnne revealed outside court that Moore wrote a creepy letter pleading his innocence to her daughter Katie Haygarth before his trial “She was only 14 at the time and he’s written Dear Katie like it was a pen pal letter, it was frightening” Lynne said that the health of her father had also deteriorated rapidly after the Carthy’s death and he died himself not long after from emphysema, she added “It killed my dad off. It affected him in every way and he never, ever got over it. It wasn’t just the fact that he was murdered, but the way he was murdered. It wiped him out in the end. He got emphysema through it and couldn’t breathe. He wouldn’t go over the door or bother with anyone” his wife said “my husband was never the same person again. It destroyed him completely, he went into shock, drew into himself and wouldn’t talk about it. It horrified him.”

Moore has been in the press a couple of times since going to prison, in 1999 Moore won nearly £13,000 compensation from a couple he claimed had stolen contents of his home, including garden gnomes, he claimed that his neighbours Les Bradshaw and Pauline Prydderch abused an offer from him to become caretaker of his property by selling his belongings at car boot sales. Moore was caught in another legal battle in July 2000 when he lost a fight to win £160,000 from North Wales Police on the grounds that they failed to protect his home following his arrest in 1995. The district judge at Leeds Court agreed the case should be struck out as Moore had no realistic chance of winning his trial. When he appeared in court for this, he had a team of heavy security and did not bring his legal representation with him.

He was imprisoned in Wakefield Prison and while there he befriended one of the most notorious serial killers of all time Dr Harold Shipman before he hung himself in 2004, Moore was one of the last people to speak to Shipman and gave evidence in the inquest into Shipman’s death. Since this he has appeared in the British press a couple of times one being a hoax that he had died a couple of years ago, he also tried to place an ad in local papers appealing for witnesses to prove his innocence, due to strong feelings of the victim’s family the request was denied.

Last year the body of a man was found close to the location where Moore buried Edward Carthy’s body and Moore suggested that he knew details of the victim, but there doesn’t seem to be any public progression on this.

Moore was displaying dangerous and predatory behaviour long before he started committing murder, and these assaults came from his own sexuality and the secrecy that he would have needed because of the way that homosexuality was viewed and treated at the time, especially in the 70s around the time of his early assaults, back then the law wasn’t on the side of the victims in homophobic attacks or same sex assaults, so Moore knew that the men he would assault would not formally report anything that he did that them so he wouldn’t need to kill them. The violence toward gay men despite being one himself was caused by the strained relationship he had with his father and his father’s views on him being “effeminate”, so even though Moore was a gay man and wanted to have sex and relationships with men he couldn’t do it normally because of what he’d learnt from his homophobic bully of a father, there was a part of him that still felt the shame that his father would make him feel for his sexuality and this would then enrage him causing him to violently attack other gay men, he was possibly hurting the other gay men as surrogates for himself and the part of him that made his father so angry.

With Moore already routinely carrying out violent attacks it was expected that all it would take is something to trigger him to kill, this trigger definitely came in the form of his mother’s death, losing a parent is psychologically damaging and your brain will do all sorts of things to send your emotions flying everywhere, one emotion that is strong in a time like this is anger. The anger can display in different ways with feelings life is unfair, like the parent you lost didn’t deserve it, angry at the things that the dead parent will miss out on and not be there for, or one of the worse type of anger to feel is the one where the sufferer feels a loss of control due to the loss of a parent. In a person that’s not committing violent offences regularly like Moore these feelings will go unacted on, just vented with friends or family, but signs of depression should be watched for, In Moore’s case he was already angry and violent, now he was a lot angrier with two intense rages burning inside him, he mentioned that after his mother died he also lost his dogs, cats and koi and felt like “death was following him” this is how his anger was displaying he felt that suddenly he had no control over the safety of things and people around him that he loved, this anger is apparent in the first murder by the amount of times he stabbed Roberts, after that first murder he would have felt a relief from releasing the anger he had been feeling and like he would have gained control over life and death giving him a high that he kept trying to recreate in the other murders.

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