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Sgt. Glen Moore and the other investigators knew that a great deal remained to be done before they could arrest Oba Chandler. They were convinced he was the one; they could feel it. But they did not yet have enough hard evidence to make the case stick in front of a judge. At the moment, about all they had was the similarity between Chandler's handwriting and the writing on the brochure, the proximity of his home to the water and to the boat ramp where Jo and the girls had disappeared, plus Chandler's strong resemblance to the composite drawing provided by the Canadian woman who had been raped in the boat off Madeira Beach two weeks before the murders.

So far, they didn't even have enough to charge him in the rape.

They needed much, much more. They needed to put Chandler under the microscope, to learn whatever they could about him, to track down every possible piece of evidence. And they needed to head across the state of Florida to his new home on the east coast, in Port Orange, and place him under surveillance.

Moore


ON THE TRAIL: Glen Moore was convinced Oba Chandler was the man he and the task force were looking for, but now they had to prove it.


Which meant they needed the approval of Mack Vines.

Vines was the assistant city manager running the St. Petersburg police department. As far as Moore was concerned, Vines had never shown much enthusiasm for the Rogers investigation. If anything, Moore thought, Vines seemed tired of it.

Like so many others in the department, Vines was concerned about the time and money that were being devoted to a case that had stymied all the investigators and had shown no sign of moving toward an arrest. Vines had given Moore and his task force until the end of the summer to produce some results. Otherwise, he had said, he would review the status of the investigation and decide what to do with the task force.

By this point it was mid-August. The deadline was almost up. But now things were different. The detectives on the task force had a strong suspect. They were barreling toward an arrest. Surely Vines would give them more time as well as approval for taking the investigation over to Chandler's home in Port Orange.

Moore and his immediate superiors, Lt. Gary Hitchcox and Maj. Lois Worlds, went together to Vines' office to tell him about Chandler. Moore thought Vines would be excited. At the very least, he expected Vines to congratulate them, to tell them how pleased he was that three years of investigation had finally paid off.

What happened next is the subject of some disagreement. Moore recalls it like this:

Instead of congratulating them, he says, Vines exploded. For the next several minutes, he vented at Moore, telling him he couldn't believe what he was hearing. He said he had thought they were almost done with this case, but no. Here was Moore, saying they had a suspect they wanted to place under surveillance, insisting they needed more time, more money, more support.

"What have you done?" Moore recalls Vines saying. "You've backed me into a corner."

Moore sat there, stunned at what he was hearing. Beside him, he says, Hitchcox and Worlds appeared to be in shock as well. Maybe they had approached Vines the wrong way or had simply wandered into his office on a bad day. But for whatever reason, the assistant city manager was giving Moore the worst chewing out of his 22 years on the police force.

Vines went on and on. Moore just listened, not sure how to respond. What could he possibly say?

"Okay," he told his boss.

When he left Vines' office, Moore's face was bright red and his veins were popping out of his neck. He was so angry he could barely contain himself. He had to get away, had to go someplace where he could let it out. So he went to the stairwell and climbed to the roof of the police station.

Moore stood there, looking out over the city, tears streaming down his cheeks.

***

Today, Vines says he has only a vague recollection of the meeting with Moore and the others. He doubts that he would have exploded -- it's not his style, he says -- but does recall a disagreement over exactly how the task force should proceed. As much as he respects Moore, he says the sergeant's intensity for the Rogers case sometimes made him a challenge for those above him.

Vines called Moore later that day. Moore says the assistant city manager apologized to him for overreacting at the meeting; Vines says he remembers making no such apology. Either way, Vines told Moore that the investigators on the task force would have his support to pursue the new suspect. They could have their extra time. They could go to the east coast and put the suspect under surveillance.

Whatever they needed to get the job done.

Silver Bullet continued  

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