Possible development in 'Severed Leg' murder mystery; Kelly Moriarty and Doris Carter still missing

4:39 PM, Oct 26, 2012   |    comments
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Authorities are hoping a recent picture of Doris Carter and Kelly Moriarty will help them get leads on their case


Plant City, Florida -- There may be a new development in that case of a woman's severed leg that washed ashore in St. Petersburg earlier this year.

Kelly Moriarty, 38, and Doris Carter 62, have been missing for more than 10 months now.

Detectives have been back out to Carter's Plant City home just within the past 24 hours and are using words like 'excited' and 'significant' when talking about the evidence they collected there.

Part of Kelly Moriarty's leg was found in Pinellas County. Her car was found abandoned in Manatee.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, taking the lead in the case, hadn't uncovered any physical evidence in its jurisdiction yet, but now that may change.

At the home on McLin Drive in Plant City, neighbors say the property was swarming with deputies and crime scene investigators.

Viola Melton a neighbor, says "It was just chaos."

Neighbors like Melton know this is the same house where Carter was last seen alive, and that she and Moriarty both disappeared the week before Christmas.

Neither woman has been heard from since. Both are presumed dead.

Melton says this was the most police activity she'd seen here since the women were first reported missing, and could only venture a guess as to why detectives were back out here again in force.

"I don't know... unless someone's under suspicion," she said.

Although Moriarty's severed leg washed ashore behind a home in St. Petersburg just weeks after the women disappeared, and her car was found abandoned in rural Manatee County, it was a Hillsborough Sheriff's detective that made the DNA connection between the leg and the rest of case.

"They're very cooperative." said Det. Larry McKinnon, who says Cater's daughter and son-in-law, who still live at the home, gave them verbal consent to re-enter the house.

This time, says McKinnon, detectives removed several bags of possible evidence, including some of Carter's personal belongings, articles of clothing, and more he would not discuss.

But McKinnon says it could be linked to other scenes related to the crime.

"You know, when a detective goes in the first time, he may not understand what a certain piece of clothing or an article may have in relationship to the case until they find some evidence, maybe perhaps somewhere else, and then that gives him a clue," said McKinnon, explaining the department's desire to re-enter the home and collect new possible evidence.

Moriarty's relatives, who have expressed frustration about the pace of the investigation, believe the women were killed somewhere in the Plant City area.

They were glad to see detectives focusing their attention there.

Kelly Moriarty's brother, Brenden, says they're "happy that the investigation is moving forward and anything at all that will lead to an arrest and conviction is what we're hoping for."

Brenden Moriarty says they're also anxious to find out what detectives learn from the evidence collected on Thursday, and what connection, if any, it has to the case.

So far there's been no time frame offered on how long it will take to process the items removed from the home.

In the meantime, investigators are repeating their call for anyone with information in this case to call them.

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