“TereseAnn was a little toot from the beginning, from the get-go,” says her mother, Sheila Lynch. “She had a lot of willpower, a lot of spunk.”
Looking at her baby photos, you can almost feel TereseAnn’s spirit radiating from her bright blue eyes.
Sheila remembers a little girl who had a habit of rooting for the underdog, at times to her detriment.
“At times, I would just say, ‘TereseAnn Marie, what are you thinking?’ Because if she saw an incident going on she’d jump in for whoever needed defended, didn’t matter their size, if it was a guy or a girl.”
That’s what makes TereseAnn’s story so difficult to understand. Her family can’t quite comprehend how a strong-willed woman, who served three tours of duty overseas, became a victim of domestic abuse.
“When people found out what was going on it was a shock,” says Sheila. “It was like, are you kidding me? TereseAnn would never put up with that, she would never do that.”
It turns out, TereseAnn put up with a lot.
Sheila says the family noticed changes in her personality shortly after she started dating Randy Moore.
“After she was with him she became distant,” says Sheila. “We’d call her and she wouldn’t answer the phone. She didn’t return our calls. When she did, it was like she was playing a role. It was like it was fake.”
Sheila say it took months for the family to find out what was going on. By that time, TereseAnn and Randy were married and the parents of a baby boy, Levi. They were living in his apartment in Des Moines, when Sheila says she received a call from TereseAnn. Her mother says she was so hysterical it took several minutes for her to make out what she was saying.
“That’s when she told me what was going on. He’d threatened to kill her, Levi, her father, her brother, anybody that got in the way, anybody she told,” says Sheila.
Those threats may be one reason TereseAnn kept the abuse hidden so well, for so long.
“She was scared to death that he was gonna hurt one of us,” says Sheila.
The threats were just one form of emotional abuse. Sheila describes the others as sheer torture. “He wouldn’t let her sleep. He would keep her up and would not let her go to sleep? He would stuff socks in her mouth so that she couldn’t talk.”
Sheila believes ultimately TersesAnn sacrificed herself to protect her son and the rest of the family.
“He did horrible things, hit her dragged her across the floor, swung her around by her hair. She had places on her head that you could see her hair had been pulled out, punched her, he choked her till she passed out and then she’d wake up again and he’d ask her if she wanted some more”
Sheila promised not to tell anyone about the abuse. In exchange, TereseAnn promised to call her mother every two to three hours. If she didn’t hear from her, she told TereseAnn she would call the police. In the meantime, they plotted TereseAnn’s escape.
“The plan was that she was going to act as normal as possible,” says Sheila. “The plan was that she was going to act as normal as possible.”
So, on the day she left, TereseAnn took Levi to daycare, just as she did every other day. But she told the daycare providers under no circumstances should they allow Randy Moore to pick him up. Instead, TereseAnn’s aunt and uncle picked up Levi.
TereseAnn’s brother picked her up from work at Camp Dodge so as not to raise suspicion should Randy drive by and notice her car was gone. TereseAnn and Levi moved in with her aunt and uncle. But when Randy found out where they were staying, they moved to another home.
“We did everything that we were told,” says Sheila. “Get the protective order, notify the police, get her to a safe place, be aware – and we were.”
It still wasn’t enough.
On Veteran’s Day, November 11, TereseAnn planned to run some errands and spend time with her son. Sheila, living in Texas at the time, spoke to her on the phone that morning.
“She was in an awesome mood. She and Levi were playing and having such a good day. Because it was Veteran’s Day she didn’t have to work,” says Sheila.
It was a sunny, unseasonably warm day. But by mid-afternoon, darkness would descend on TereseAnn.
Driving a rental car to disguise himself, Randy followed TereseAnn to a Target store on Merle Hay Road. While she shopped, he circled the parking lot. When TereseAnn came out of the store, Randy was waiting. Security video from the store shows Randy driving up next to her, confronting her and eventually forcing her into his car.
The scuffle caught the attention of other shoppers. Some of them called 9-1-1. One woman would later testify TereseAnn looked “terrified.”
A short time later, Sheila received a text from Randy. It read, “By the time you get this me and TereseAnn will be dead. It didn’t have to be this way but she has made some bad choices with me seeing Levi and that’s not right. Now she doesn’t.”
Sheila, frantic, tried calling TereseAnn numerous times. When she didn’t pick up, Sheila called the police. “I had the Des Moines Police Department on speed dial on my cell phone because I was scared for TereseAnn.”
She had reason to be. Police now surrounded the apartment TereseAnn and Randy once shared. Inside, he held her captive with a 12-guage shotgun, which according to the protective order against him, was supposed to have been turned over to police. Police, trying to keep Randy calm, talked to him several minutes over the phone. During those conversations, he threatened to shoot anyone who approached the apartment.
“I’ve got 20 shells? and I’m ready to play,” he told the dispatcher.
Randy also called a friend, who later testified he could hear TereseAnn in the background, pleading for her life, “I just heard her begging, ‘Please, no, no don’t do this.'”
Sheila, still holding out hope that her daughter was alive, watched the coverage of the standoff over the internet.
“On the news they showed him being arrested and taken out of the apartment and I didn’t see anything about my daughter. So I called the police. They said someone would have to get back to me.”
Someone did, but their words were not what Sheila, not what any mother, should have to hear.
Sheila cannot hold back the tears as she recalls learning of her daughter’s death, “He told me that there was a young deceased female in the apartment and I got angry and told him, ‘It wasn’t a young deceased female. It was my daughter and her name was TereseAnn Marie.”
The high spirited little girl with the bright, blue eyes, the strong-willed young woman, willing to fight for her country was gone.
“It’s something that you keep hoping didn’t really happen, that it wasn’t really true, that no one could be that evil,” says Sheila.
Evil is a word used to describe Randy Moore on more than one occasion. From 2002 to 2006 four different women filed four separate protective orders against him. Their petitions serve as forewarnings.
One reads, “He threatened to kill himself and told me he would take me with him.”
The others state, “He is verbally abusive, threatens me with anything that he knows will upset me.” “I’m scared to leave my apartment.” “He threatened to kill me.”
“Doesn’t that raise a red flag?” asks Sheila. “Doesn’t that tell you maybe this person needs to be arrested and evaluated psychologically, something, something more than another protective order, a third one, a fourth one?”
Randy Moore was arrested three times in less than a year. In December of 2005, he served eight hours in jail for violating a protective order. Five months later, he was charged with assault causing injury. He did a little more than 13 days behind bars. He violated another protective order in September. For that, he served a day.
“This was a violent, violent predator, who hurt every woman in his life and somewhere the system broke down way in front of this homicide,” says Laurie Schipper, executive director for the Iowa Coalition of Domestic Violence.
She believes more education, more awareness and stiffer penalties will eventually reduce the incidence of domestic violence and save lives.
“You can get a stronger penalty for animal abuse in our state,” points out Schipper.
Sheila is trying to change that. She hopes by shining a light on her daughter, others will come out of the shadows.
“I would hope that she would be very proud of herself,” says Sheila of TereseAnn. “For me and her family believe she sacrificed her life for her son. And I think she would tell anyone in the situation that she was in with domestic abuse to reach out. And if you have to, do it over and over and over and ask for help.”