Outside a home located just 50 yards from where the missing woman’s body was found, her friends and family gathered with neighbors Wednesday night, leaving candles and flowers.
Kathleen Moore’s loved ones gathered quietly outside the house where the man accused of killing her, 30-year-old Collin Knapp, lives on Carmel Avenue in New Port Richey.
Among those who came to honor Moore was Samantha Neitz, 38, who said she worked with Moore at an Applebee’s restaurant. She said her daughter used to sit in Moore’s lap while the two watched Drake videos.
Kelly McDonald, 58, handed out purple ribbons for domestic violence awareness at the vigil. She didn’t know Moore or Knapp, she said, but she lives down the street and wanted to pay her respects.
Moore’s cousin, the Rev. Hosea Ward, recalled Moore’s “jolly” personality and her smile. He said he never knew she had a boyfriend.
“Domestic violence needs to be addressed,” he said. “It needs to be addressed.”
Ward led those gathered at the vigil in prayer, and Moore’s family asked for people to keep her loved ones in their prayers.
Brittney Kendrick, 32, said she also didn’t know her cousin was dating Knapp. When Kendrick arrived at the vigil, she stood in front of the lit candles and wept.
“Remember that even though she was stuck in a situation that wasn’t good, she was a strong fighter,” Kendrick said. “She had love for a lot of people.”
Kara Cryderman, 18, and Amira Eldib, 19, came to the vigil because they had worked with Moore for several months at Buffalo Wild Wings. They said Moore was hardworking and caring.
“She was always looking for others,” Eldib said. “Always checking up on everybody.”
Moore and Knapp had been out with friends at bars in Largo and Indian Rocks the evening of Nov. 28, and Knapp told Pasco detectives that Moore left with him that night and they drove to his home in New Port Richey, authorities say.
Witnesses say Moore and Knapp had been arguing at the bar and, after they got to his house, Knapp said the couple argued and Moore left. But Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a news conference Monday night that there is no evidence Moore ever left Knapp’s home that night.
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Investigators began searching for Moore after the sheriffs’ offices in Pinellas and Pasco counties started a missing person report Nov. 30.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office arrested Knapp on a second-degree murder charge in connection with Moore’s death Monday. A day later, Moore’s body was found about 50 yards from Knapp’s home. She was identified by her tattoos, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
According to a criminal complaint, investigators sorted through a dumpster at Harold Seltzer’s Steakhouse, where Knapp works, after Knapp told them he went there to inventory meat a short time after he said Moore left his home. The dumpster is only used by the restaurant. During the search, detectives said they found black garbage bags that were different from the other trash bags in the dumpster, which were mostly clear. In the black bags, they found a bed comforter, a bedsheet and a mattress cover — all of which appeared to be covered in a significant amount of blood, authorities said. The trash bags also contained pillowcases that appeared to match pillowcases photographed in Knapp’s home.
Authorities also found several items they believe belonged to Moore in the black trash bags, including car keys, a debit card and a Rugrats sweatshirt Moore had been seen wearing in a Snapchat video, authorities said. They also found a pair of gray cargo pants, brown work boots and a gray shirt with blood on them, according to a criminal complaint. Knapp identified the cargo pants in a photo during an interview with police, and a Florida Department of Law Enforcement test confirmed the blood was a match to Moore.
Brenda Brown, 45, moved into a house across the street from Knapp in January. She said she would wave to him from across the street and make small talk. When she found out Knapp had been arrested, she was shocked.
“There was absolutely nothing that red-flagged me that there was something wrong,” Brown said.
Amid a sea of candle flames, Brown left an electric light. It had a note attached:
“So your light never burns out Kat.”
If you or someone you know is in a relationship with domestic violence, call one of the following 24-hour hotlines: Pinellas County — 727-895-4912; Hillsborough County — 813-247-7233; Pasco County — 352-521-3120.
Times staff writer Michaela Mulligan contributed to this report.