By BRAD KELLAR
Family members and friends of Alicia Chanta Moore Wednesday described a teenager who loved music, video games and Nickelodeon.
“She’s not even your average 16-year-old,” said LaShonda Simpson, a longtime friend who spoke during a Wednesday afternoon press conference concerning Moore’s death.
Cedric Fisher, who also has known Moore’s family for years, believed the Greenville Police Department could have done more to find Moore after she disappeared Friday afternoon.
“I feel personally that they really dropped the ball,” Fisher said, wondering if the person who killed Moore is still at large in the community. “We don’t know if it will happen again tomorrow.”
The Greenville Police Department confirmed Wednesday that a body found along a highway in Van Zandt County Tuesday was Moore’s.
Moore was reported missing Friday evening after getting off at Greenville Independent School District bus about a half-block from her home.
Jessica Byrd, Moore’s aunt, said she never made it to the residence where Moore’s uncle was waiting.
“Something happened between that bus and that house,” Byrd said.
Byrd said the family is having to deal with the fact that Moore is dead, while also criticizing the police department for what they felt was a lack of effort to find Moore after she was reported missing.
“It’s a slow process, a headache, and the biggest nightmare is kind of closing,” Byrd said. “It’s going to be a big headache for the family and community. It’s a wake up call to show our community how our police department that is supposed to serve and protect us treats us.”
Byrd disagreed with the contention that Moore’s disappearance did not meet the criteria for issuing an Amber Alert.
“I don’t care how old or young someone is,” Byrd said. “If somebody is missing that should have been home, the police need to step up and reach out. Most of the time they’re not going to stay in the town they were missing from. If they would have just given us their support to reach out to the counties that are not very far from here, I feel like my niece would be here today.”
Byrd said she never believed Moore was a runaway.
“I’m very close to her. I believe deep down in my heart she did not run away,” Byrd said. “She would have taken her jewelry and favorite clothes, and she would have nagged me for my flat irons and crinkle curls.”
Simpson said she grew up with Moore’s mother explained that Moore had baby sat for her over the summer.
“As a social worker I worked at a children’s runaway shelter for five years,” Simpson said. “When speaking with the chief and police on Monday, I explained to them that the criteria of a runaway, Alicia did not meet that criteria. I’ve seen many runaways and heard many stories, and it irritated me that was the first thing being thrown out. I think that is wrong and I feel like that was the reason the investigation was handled like that, because of her age.”
Fisher was also critical of what the family perceived as a lack of getting the word out about the disappearance.
“That prolonging could have resulted in the death of a child,” Fisher said. “If it wasn’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t have known it happened. Nobody in the community really had an outreach or nothing to tell you it happened. Most of it started on Facebook.”
Byrd again pleaded for information from the public, including the person who may have committed the murder.
“Please just call in, no matter how big or small it is, turn the information in,” Byrd said. “I’m hoping because it had to end like this, people will start speaking up. Please speak up. It’s sad it had to end this way. Do your part. Even if you’re the person who did it, turn yourself in or leave clues so somebody can reach out to you.”