While they were Sleeping
edited: Monday, March 25, 2002
By Amy H Peterson
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2002
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In my hometown, a man bludgeoned his girlfriend, her five children and another man. All we can
do is wonder why.
Leticia Aguilar came from Mexico as a teenager to Fresno, California with
her family. Eight years ago, as a 23 year old already the mother of three
toddlers, she came here with her husband to seek work in Sioux City's
growing Hispanic community. She gave birth to a second daughter, then a
third son. She divorced, remarried briefly and divorced again, and began
working overtime at a box factory.
She found a neighborhood sitter who fell in love with her five children and
took them with her to relatives' homes and to church. Donna is in her
fifties, matriarch of a working class Italian family whose members never
leave the 'hood.
A few months ago, for reasons unknown to anyone, 31 year old Leticia
started dating Adam Matthew Moss, a 23 year old ex-con and high school
dropout who had done time for criminal mischief and grand theft auto, and
whose criminal record stretched back to elementary school.
Leticia was a tiny beauty with black hair and pale skin, golden brown eyes
that were usually heavily made up, and full, burgundy lips.
Adam is tanned and blonde, and with a lanky, 5'7" frame looks even
younger than his 23 years.
He worked at the box factory, too, until he quit about three weeks ago.
Leticia's five children from her two marriages were good students and very
well liked among teachers and classmates. Nine year old Larry was a cub
scout, looking forward to overnight camps and other privileges of moving
to the Webelos level. Twelve year old Claudia, the oldest, had repeated
second grade, putting her in the same class as eleven year old Zach, but
now a middle schooler was on the honor roll. Six year old Michael, the
youngest, got the teacher he wanted for first grade and loved taking the
bus each day with Larry and seven-year-old Lisa.
Monday night there was an argument at Leticia's narrow, two story frame
house. A few neighbors saw Adam bolt through the door, slamming it
behind him. A flush of anger colored his tanned face, and his long feet in
high top sneakers stomped along the sidewalk as he jumped into his car.
Monday night around 8:00 Adam was angry and he was leaving, either
forever or just to get a few drinks and come back when he was settled
down. It really mattered not to the neighbors, who wondered what Leticia
was doing with him anyway.
It wasn't until around 3:00 a.m. that Adam came back. He strode silently
into the house; he had a hammer and a knife. He was quiet now,
He walked upstairs, almost tripping over Zach and Larry, who had camped
out on the landing in sleeping bags. Their flashlights were still on inside
their sleeping bags and X Men comics were strewn all over the staircase.
Adam stepped over the sleeping boys and walked into the girls' room.
Claudia and Lisa slept on small twin beds with matching, worn, lavendar
blankets. Adam walked over to Claudia's bed and threw back the covers.
After bringing the hammer down twice on her temple, he swung back to
crush her sternum with a third blow. As blood started to stain Claudia's
Enrique Iglesias tee shirt, Adam moved over to Lisa. It was darker on her
side of the room; she was harder to see. He grabbed her by the back of
the neck and brought the hammer down in the center of her forehead, so
quickly she didn't even wake up.
He moved to the landing and killed Larry with one swift blow. With Zach,
Adam found it necessary to bring his hammer down over twenty times on
his head, neck, and chest, and then bludgeon his face until both
cheekbones were crushed. Was Zach the nemesis at home? Did Zach
come between Adam and Leticia? Was he the little man of the house,
trying to protect his mother?
Adam moved on to six year old Michael's room. Adam, the noncustodial
father of a four year old, didn't harm Michael's face at all but pounded at
his tiny chest with the hammer until his breathing stopped.
Finally, Adam moved on to the bedroom he shared with Leticia. Leticia
was awake when she died; when she was found two days later, her eyes
were open. After he fractured her skull with the hammer, Adam brought it
down seven times on the side of her face, then, after she was dead, cut
her throat with the knife.
By now it was almost 4 a.m. and the early shift workers in the
neighborhood would be getting up. Adam had to disappear into the dark
night. Before he did, he put a sign on the door of the house saying the
family was on vacation, in order to keep friends and truant officers at
bay. Then, on foot and still carrying the bloody weapons, Adam walked
He hid out for a full day as the bodies of his victims remained
undiscovered. Then, two evenings later, he went to see Ron, a 58 year
old tire store owner. No one knows exactly how or why Adam and Ron
knew each other, though some rumors have floated around, but some
seem certain they've known each other since 1995.
Whatever their relationship, Adam went to Ron's house on one of the
most affluent streets in Sioux City. Ron's house is on a large property
surrounded by trees and other foliage. Neighbors said they hardly saw
him; he was at the store afternoons and evenings, returning late at night
after working out at a health club that stays open until 11 or 12:00.
He also bludgeoned Ron with the hammer and after he collapsed, stabbed
him multiple times with the knife.
Adam left while it was still light out in Ron's car. Some neighbors were just
arriving home from work. No one saw anything unusual, so Ron wasn't
discovered in the entry way of his house until 6:00 the next evening when
a coworker went to check on him, concerned that he hadn't been to
At the same time, Donna, the children's sitter, was worried when she
hadn't heard from Leticia or the children. She used her key to the back
door of the house and went in. Calling out their names, she slowly started
up the stairs.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I have been troubled by this event in my city since I first heard of it on
Thursday. Adam has been caught and arraigned on seven counts of
first-degree murder, which in Iowa carries a maximum life sentence
without parole for each one they prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Larry was one of the Webelos boy scouts in my son's group, though he
didn't go to the same school or live in our neighborhood. He was one of
the more intelligent boys in the group and always considerate to adults.
Leticia was someone I had met in my work covering Hispanic work and
culture in Sioux City. I have no idea why she let this loser move in with
Ron was the father of one of my high school classmates and father-in-law
of another. From all I know a standup guy in spite of any interesting
habits or hangups.
I thank you for indulging my need to create something from this, to get
out what I've been feeling. Most of the details here were derived from the
complaint that was read at Adam's arraignment. I don't know what will
happen. I can't imagine he'd get a fair trial around here, but with CNN, the
BBC, and national news coverage of this case, it may be impossible
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|The horror of it, that someone lives out rage and hate by killing. A man here who murdered a vacuum cleaner salesman and cut up his body was just acquitted by reason of insanity - by the judge in a non-jury trial. The murderer be released when believed to be sane. The cries of the family when they heard the verdict were heartrending - they are simple folk and cannot begin to understand why this could happen and why the man might go free...|
|There is little real Justice left in the courts today. Let's try him in Istanbul.