Moore returns to Hertford County

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 29, 2007

COURTLAND, Va. – A fugitive captured in a manhunt Tuesday has been returned to North Carolina after waiving extradition in a Southampton County court.

Sterling Devon Moore, 29 of Ahoskie, was picked up from the jail in Courtland and transported to the Hertford County Jail Thursday afternoon. There, according to Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan, Moore is held under an $805,000 cash bond.

Moore’s bond will increase following his first appearance in Hertford County District Court yesterday (Friday) morning. A spokesman at the Hertford County Jail said he was waiting for court papers that will add three other bonds to the current total.

In Ahoskie, Moore faces charges of first-degree forcible rape, first-degree sexual offense, first-degree kidnapping, assault on a female, assault with a deadly weapon and communicating threats, all connected to a rape that occurred in December.

Moore eluded police for almost eight hours on Tuesday before finally stepping across a path within sight of Southampton County Sheriff Vernie Francis Jr. at about 6 p.m. in the Nottoway Gardens area of southeastern Southampton County.

“I said ‘There he is!’” and deputies hopped in their cars for a brief pursuit, Francis said Thursday. Moore submitted to his arrest peacefully and the sweep that had begun in the parking lot at the nearby Duck Thru convenience store at about 10:30 that morning was finally called off.

At the height of the search, deputies from Southampton were joined by law enforcement officers from Franklin, Brunswick and the Virginia State Police as well as the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office and Murfreesboro Police Department.

The manhunt involved three police dogs and a state police helicopter out of Richmond, which was refueled three times at the Franklin airport.

“I think the guys did a real good job,” Francis said. “They worked hard and stuck with it, even in the heat.”

Even Moore was impressed with the tenacity of those who sought him.

“He said, ‘You guys never give up’,” Francis recalled. “We said, ‘That’s correct; we don’t give up’.”

Noting that law enforcement officers from bordering North Carolina jurisdictions had helped Southampton capture fugitives in the past, Francis praised the spirit of cooperation that exists between his own county and those across the state’s border.

“That (state) line isn’t a barrier,” he said.

In fact, it was a North Carolina police officer whose call got the search started.

Aulander Police Chief Jimmy Barmer was working as a private security guard at the Duck Thru on the corner of U.S. 258 and Route 189 when he and Moore saw and recognized each other. Moore abandoned the tractor trailer he had stopped to fuel, and then ran into a nearby cornfield, Barmer said Tuesday.

Barmer’s subsequent call to the sheriff’s office drew a quick and massive law enforcement response that was aided at times by private citizens with tips about where Moore might be hiding.

(R.E. Spears III is a Staff Writer with the Tidewater News in Franklin, Va., a sister publication of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.)