Manatee County Sheriff’s detectives had never stopped looking for leads in the strangling 10 years ago of 29-year-old Nicole Rose Scott, whose body was found in a wooded area in December 2011.
They made an arrest Wednesday after a man they had questioned earlier in the case walked into the Sheriff’s Operation Center and admitted to the crime, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
Benjamin Wade Moulton, 43, who operates an adult living center in Sarasota, told detectives that in the years since the crime, he had “found Jehovah and couldn’t live with the guilt anymore,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
Moulton said he killed Rose in a fit of rage and provided other details about the case that were never released to the public, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Moulton was arrested Wednesday on a charge of first-degree murder.
A man spotted the partially clothed body Dec. 11, 2011, in a wooded area off University Boulevard and called 9-1-1. Deputies noted Rose had suffered injuries to her face. An autopsy determined she was strangled and likely dropped off in the remote area several days before the body was found.
Detectives followed up on a number of leads and questioned Moulton about his connection to Rose. He denied any involvement in her murder and detectives lacked evidence to link him to the crime.
During the past few years, detectives continued to search for new information but were unable to develop a clear suspect, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Friends said Rose, a mother of three, had started to turn her life around after a troubled youth marred by drug, prostitution and theft charges, the Bradenton Herald reported after her slaying. In 2003, while pregnant, she was arrested for trying to cash stolen checks, an arrest report shows.
Moulton is listed as chief financial officer of the family-run Sunniland Assisted Living Center in Sarasota, according to the state Division of Corporations. The company has been in business more than 25 years, its Facebook page says, caring for up to six patients and specializing in people who have dementia.
No one immediately returned a phone call and messages placed Thursday with Sunniland.
Moulton was born and raised in Sarasota and started a lawn company called Green Touch Enterprise Inc in 2000, according to social media accounts. He received an associate’s degree in accounting from Keiser University in 2002 and worked nine years as an accountant for a drapery company. He became a state-certified administrator at Sunniland in 2010 and has worked there ever since, his Linked-In page says.
He is a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, his Facebook page says.
Moulton has a criminal record in Sarasota County dating to 2011 and including convictions for felony assault; misdemeanors including marijuana possession, DUI, and resisting an officer; and probation violations, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records. His sentences were served in county jail.
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The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that Moulton was arrested on a charge of attempted murder for a December 2011 attack in Sarasota on a prostitute who was pregnant.
The following February, FDLE records show, he was arrested again on charges related to that case, including second-degree murder and sexual assault with a weapon. The charges were dropped a month later.
Staff writer Anastasia Dawson contributed to this report.