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CERT volunteers Melisa Semenov (left) and Marie Dotson check their coordinates one final time prior to letting “Sax” off his leash to conduct a Friday morning search for Daniel Moses in a wooded area near the Rehoboth community. Moses has been missing since 2011. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant
CERT volunteers Melisa Semenov (left) and Marie Dotson check their coordinates one final time prior to letting “Sax” off his leash to conduct a Friday morning search for Daniel Moses in a wooded area near the Rehoboth community. Moses has been missing since 2011. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

‘Dog’ged Effort

Published 8:36am Monday, March 31, 2014

JACKSON – Despite coming up empty handed near here Friday morning, the search for Daniel McCoy Moses is far from over.

A five-person team representing North Carolina CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and an equal number of highly trained cadaver dogs joined Northampton County Sheriff’s officers on a ground search for Moses, missing since 2011, in a small wooded area located near his former home along W.J. Duke Service Road near the Rehoboth community.

“We were hopeful that today’s search would produce results,” said Northampton Sheriff’s Captain Chuck Hasty, one of three NCSO officers at the scene. “We failed to find Mr. Moses today, but we’ll keep looking. This case remains very active. We’re still following up on leads and have some interviews set up for next week.”

“We want to solve this case just as badly as the Moses family,” said Northampton Sheriff Jack Smith. “We appreciate the efforts today from CERT. We will use whatever resources we can to solve this case, as well as the Shawn Alston case (missing since the fall of 2012). These families want some closure.”

Northampton County Sheriff’s Captain Chuck Hasty (left) and CERT leader Mac Morgan study a map of the wooded area to be searched. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant
Northampton County Sheriff’s Captain Chuck Hasty (left) and CERT leader Mac Morgan study a map of the wooded area to be searched. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Friday, CERT volunteers, using two dogs at the time, zigzagged their way through the wooded area. Two complete sweeps of the area were performed. An abandoned home and lot, heavy with underbrush, on the same property were also a part of the search grid.

In the woods, the first four dogs through each showed interest in one specific area. That led team leader Mac Morgan – a retired law enforcement officer now living in Wendell – to take in “Tucker” (a golden retriever) for one final search.

“Nothing,” said Morgan as he, Tucker, and the other four CERT volunteers exited the woods for the final time. “All of the dogs showed some interest in there, but none gave a final alert. I can say with about 90 percent accuracy that there’s not a body in those woods.”

Morgan said the “area of interest” that the dogs hit upon was perhaps methane gas.

“I’m pretty sure it’s methane gas, which is natural with a body that’s in decomposition, but it’s also part of green matter, leaves and limbs, on the floor of a woods. That area didn’t convince the dogs that a body was there,” he noted.

The search included each handler using GPS to plot their trek through the wooded area. That information was downloaded onto a computer.

Morgan said the dogs go through a rigorous certification process in HRD (human remains). All their training and field searches, to even include regular check-ups at an animal clinic, are well documented. They are trained by smell and will alert their handler to a body by laying down on top of that area. Morgan said that action indicates a final alert that something is there.

Information shared by the Moses family led the search team and dogs to this particular wooded area on Friday.

“We did not have any definite information that Mr. Moses may be buried there; it was just a hunch we were acting upon,” said Hasty. “We received permission from the landowner (Dr. Boone Mara) to conduct the search.”

The CERT volunteers and dogs were also supposed to search an area in the western part of the county, related to the Alston case, on Friday. However, Hasty reported that the property owner did not wish to cooperate with law enforcement and denied the search request.

Alston was last seen on Oct. 18, 2012 at 11:30 p.m. He was leaving a neighbor’s house on Berry Scott Trail in Garysburg, walking in the direction of his home. He was wearing a black shirt and khaki cargo shorts. He is 40 years old, 5’7” tall, and weighs between 190-210 lbs. with brown hair and brown eyes. The Robinson/Alston family is offering a $500 reward for any information leading to his whereabouts.

Moses was last seen on June 16, 2011 at his home in the Rehoboth community, located between Rich Square and Jackson. The day he vanished, a fire destroyed his home.   Both of his vehicles and his motorcycle were still on the property.  Moses (age 61 at the time of his disappearance) is 6’0″ tall and 200 lbs.  He has brown eyes and black hair with shades of gray trimmed in a box-style cut. The Moses family is offering a $10,000 reward for information that will lead to his whereabouts.

Hasty said there has been no activity on Moses’ bank account or cell phone since the days leading up to him vanishing in thin air.

Anyone with information can contact the SBI at 1-800-334-3000 regarding Moses or call Northampton County Crime Stoppers at 1-252-534-1110 regarding Alston.

 

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