Ronald Lee Moore, a suspected serial thief from Baltimore County, Maryland, has been identified as the killer of Neal, according to police from North Myrtle Beach. Moore committed suicide while in prison in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, in 2008.
Neal was reported missing from her boyfriend in June 1996 after she left to meet a man named Don Gibson, but never returned home. When police conducted a welfare check in an apartment building on North Myrtle Beach, Neal was found strangled to death, according to the official police report.
Police later concluded that Don Gibson was a fake name. A search in the area found several crime scene objects found in a nearby dumpster. But after failing to identify any suspects or clues in Neal’s death, the case cooled down and investigations went dormant.
However, the North Myrtle Beach police department reopened the case in November 2017 due to advances in DNA collection, according to a press release from the department.
Thanks to modern advances in DNA technology, the laboratory has identified previously unknown DNA from an unknown suspect on the evidence found in the dumpster. The DNA matched the DNA found on Neal’s inner clothing.
The new DNA was entered into a national DNA database and corresponded to a DNA profile belonging to Moore.
“Further investigations revealed that Moore had also been named suspect in a series of burglaries, unsolved sexual assault cases, and an additional unsolved murder case from Baltimore County (Maryland) in 1999,” according to the press release. “The review of these files revealed striking similarities between the suspected victims of Moore in Maryland and the murder of Neal in North Myrtle Beach.”
While Moore did not visit or live often in North Myrtle Beach, detectives discovered that he had friends whom he would visit in Louisiana. Police believed that Moore could have crossed Myrtle Beach in the summer of 1996 while traveling from Maryland to Louisiana.
Investigators have determined that a probable cause exists to charge Moore. But since he died in prison on unrelated charges, he cannot be formally charged or tried for the murder of Neal. Investigators, however, closed Neal’s case.
“The department hopes that the resolution of Shawn’s case will bring the family to a semblance of closure,” according to the press release.