In 1977 Robert Moormann was sentenced to nine years to life in prison for a kidnapping charge. After serving part of that time and having racked up a reputation for good behavior, the parole board determined that Moormann was eligible to participate in a “compassionate furlouge.”
For 72-hours Moormann would be allowed a 3-day pass in which he could stay outside of prison walls. Moormann’s adoptive mother, Roberta, agreed to come stay with Moormann in a hotel during his temporary prison leave.
Roberta and Moormann checked into a hotel in Florence, Arizona on January 12, 1984. The following morning, Moormann called a friend of Roberta’s and asked her to drive him to see a lawyer later that afternoon. She agreed to give Moormann a ride to his lawyer’s office. Immediately after the phone call to Roberta’s friend, Moormann then walked to a nearby store and purchased a buck knife, a steak knife, and some food items. Moormann also picked up a soda at a nearby pizza restaurant and told the owner, a former prison guard, that he was on a furlouge and that he would be back in for dinner with his mother later that evening.
Moormann returned to the hotel. He was there for approximately 45 minutes before approaching the front desk and asking the staff to hold any maid service or phone calls to the room because his mother was feeling under the weather. He also approached the owner and asked if he could borrow some disinfectant spray. The hotel owner described Moormann as having blood on his face and an awful smell emanating from him. Towels left by Moormann in the hallway also had a similarly awful smell and the maid service was forced to throw them away.
When Roberta’s friend arrived to pick Moormann up to drive him to his lawyer’s office that afternoon, he told her that his mother had stepped out for a while, but before she left she had asked him to dispose of some garbage bags. She refused to help Moormann with the trash bags. She also noted that the room was unusually cold and that Roberta’s purse was still inside the room when she arrived.
Moormann then set about disposing of the trash bags. He approached the hotel owner again and inquired on when trash pickup would be. He explained that his mother had purchased some spoiled meat and he needed it disposed of as quickly as possible. When the hotel owner told him that trash pickup wasn’t until Monday, Moormann left the hotel and went to ask a nearby liquor store clerk, as well as the pizza shop owner, if he could dispose of rotten meat or animal guts in their dumpsters. Both refused Moormann’s request.
Arriving at the hotel after receiving a tip about Moormann’s suspicious behavior from the pizza shop owner, Florence police knock on Moormann’s hotel room door and ask to do a welfare check on his mother. Moormann explained that his mother had left with another woman that evening and never returned. Moormann expressed a concern because she hadn’t taken her medication along with her. Several minutes later Moormann leaves the room and the police ask him for a description of his mother.
Moormann changes his story during his second conversation with police. This time he says that his mother had asked him to go to the store and purchase a knife for her friend and when he returned to the hotel she was gone. He also explains the garbage bags as “cow guts” a friend had given him that he had been attempting to dispose of, but eventually started flushing them down the toilet.
After the police take Moormann’s statements, he picks up the phone and calls a prison official to ask him to help him get rid of some spoiled hamburger meat and a box of dog bones his friend had dropped off. He claimed that the hotel dumpster was full and he needed to get rid of the stuff immediately. The lieutenant agreed and Moormann loaded up his truck with the box of “dog bones.” The official looked inside the box and could see some clean bones. He set it out by the prison dumpster without a second thought.
Nearly two hours later the prison lieutenant receives a call from Florence police explaining Moormann’s odd behavior and the reports of his missing mother. The lieutenant told officers about the box of “dog bones” Moormann had him dispose of and police were able to pick up the box, sending it to a local hospital for analysis. Moormann is placed under arrest for the suspected murder of his adoptive mother.
While in police custody Moormann confessed. He claimed that he had “lost his cool when his mother wanted him to “take his father’s place” and to perform things that he couldn’t handle. Police find garbage bags containing parts of Roberta’s dismembered body within the hotel dumpsters, in addition to the box of bones recovered from the prison dumpster.
A medical examiner determined that Roberta’s official cause of death was asphyxiation. After Moormann suffocated her, he spent roughly two hours dismembering the body and placing Roberta’s parts and pieces into the box and bags for disposal. Some of her fingers and smaller parts Moormann admitted to having flushed down the toilet.
The jury handed Moormann the death sentence for the brutal murder of his adoptive mother, Roberta. After having served the longest sentence of any Death Row inmate within the state of Arizona, he was executed on February 29, 2012.