Hey Crime Sunday readers, I hope you had a great week and are ready for Monday! Today’s story is another frustrating and heartbreaking tragedy. This case will show you how our system failed another innocent child. Georgia’s story reminds me so much of Cassie’s Compton story which I shared a couple weeks ago. The events in this case are almost unbelievable to me but sadly this story is reality for Georgia’s family.
Content Warning: I will mention sexual abuse against minors, racism, and murder that maybe trigging for some readers. This contact is not appropriate for all ages. Please be advised.
Georgia Leah Moses was born on January 7th, 1985 in Buffalo, NY to a single Mom by the name of Ida who had two sons already, Jermaine and Mario. Ida tried to be the best mother to her children even though she was diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia. Because of their mom’s mental health issues and Georgia’s father not being in the picture, Jermaine had to take on much more responsibility than most young men his age had. He started working odd jobs to help out the family financially, learned how to care for a newborn, and was even in the delivery room when Georgia was born. Even though he had to make a lot of sacrifices he loved taking care of Georgia and even brought her along to his football games and practices. The children faced hard times but they really loved each other and took care of one another.
When Georgia was just five-years-old, her Mom gave birth to Angel, her little sister. Georgia was very excited to be a big sister and took the role very seriously. Angel loved her older sister and described her to be caring, thoughtful, kind, and amazing. When Georgia was just seven-years-old, Ida decided to move herself, Georgia, and Angel to Sonoma county, CA. Mario and Jermaine stayed behind in New York and I can only imagine how hard that must have been for Jermaine to separate from his sisters. Georgia had no issues making friends because this school hardly got new students so everyone was excited to get to know her and when they did, they realized how great she was.
Over the years, Ida struggled financially and with her mental health therefore raising her two daughters became too much for her at times. She went to the state many times for help and even asked them to place the girls in a more reliable home but that would only last so long and the girls were eventually returned to Ida’s care. By the time Georgia was 12 years old, she had taken on the role of caring for herself and her younger sister. She would do things like collect social security checks, pay the bills, and even go grocery shopping. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for Georgia to take on so much at such a young age but she did it all without complaining and rarely asked for help. Even with all the struggles Georgia faced and all the responsibility she handled, she was still just a 12-year-old girl at heart. She loved to dance, attended sleepovers and birthday parties, and she aspired to be a nurse when she grew up.
In early 1997, Ida started dating a man by the name of Eddie Pope, and early into their relationship, Eddie moved in with Ida, Georgia, and Angel. Georgia had a problem with Eddie moving in with them so quickly because Eddie had a place of his own so she didn’t understand why he was living with them and little did Ida know that her new boyfriend was a registered sex offender.
One evening in early April of 1997, things between Georgia and Eddie really hit the fan. After cooking one of her favorite meals, eggs and hotdogs, she walked into her room and Eddie followed behind her, closed and locked the door. Angel recalls hearing Georgia yelling and she was saying things like “don’t touch me, leave me alone” and a loud commotion. Not even 30 seconds of them being in her room alone, Eddie walked out of Georgia’s room and while standing in the doorway he said to her “if you aren’t going to abide by my rules then you can get out.” Georgia packed a bag and even though Angel begged her to stay, she said she couldn’t stay there. This wasn’t even Eddie’s house to be kicking Georgia out which I know will be very frustrating to anyone reading this case.
I think it is important to say that during this time, not only was Ida struggling with her mental disorder but Angel believes that her mother was being drugged as she was in and out of a coherent state and unable to properly care for her daughters.
When Georgia left her home, Angel said that her Mom was informed that Georgia would be staying with a particular family friend. Unfortunately, this home was not a safer option or a better situation for Georgia than her Mom’s house but Georgia had limited options. This house was known in the area to be a crack house as adults would always be in the garage doing drugs and kids would be running wild throughout the house and in the neighborhood with no real adult supervision. Angel knew the adults in this house pretty well and she knew that her sister would be required to pay rent to stay there. She was paying $500 a month and was sleeping on the kitchen floor. She did bounce around from a couple of different places but this was her main home and it didn’t seem like the adults in the home truly cared for her.
Georgia started skipping school and was acting in a way that any adult should have known something was not right with her and when she was just in 6th grade, she made the decision to drop out of school. Even though she was just 12 years old it seemed like she was on her own in the world. When the school principal asked Georgia why she was dropping out she told him that she had to take care of her family. The principal did admit that there were concerns for Georgia’s home life but nobody from the school looked further into it. This is another frustrating part of her story because not only was the state failing Ida by getting her the help she needed to care for Georgia and Angel, and the school system whose number one priority should have been their students also failed her. Why didn’t they do anything?
Georgia visited Angel as often as she could because she was worried about her living with Eddie. She wanted to spend as much time with her as she could. Even though Angel was just seven years old, she noticed a shift in Georgia. She was hanging out with older teenagers, smoking weed, and her whole demeanor started to change. Because Georgia was required to pay rent at the crack house she was sleeping at, Georgia had to find a way to make money and it’s not like a 12-year-old can go apply for a normal job. She started to attend parties and it was obvious that at these “parties” a lot of terrible things were going on. As a result of her going to these parties, Georgia became a victim of human trafficking. Some media outlets called her a child prostitute which I found absolutely disgusting because no child can give sexual consent even if the child thinks she was agreeing to sexual acts.
Around June 1997, Ida made a plan to move herself and her daughter back to Buffalo, New York. Georgia was so excited, she could not wait to have a fresh start and be reunited with her brothers. But sadly Ida’s purse was stolen and this stopped them from being able to move because her purse had the necessities for them to move across the country. Angel now believes her Mom’s purse was stolen by someone who wanted to keep Georgia in California, possibly by someone who was making money off of Georgia.
Since Ida was unable to move back to Buffalo, she had no other choice but to move herself and Angel to Santa Rosa, CA to live with Eddie because she was evicted from her home and facing homelessness. This made it more difficult for Georgia to visit her sister as it was a 20-minute drive from where Georgia was staying but that didn’t stop her from being there for her little sister.
On August 13th 1997, Georgia was spending time at a friend’s house early that day and she left to go spend time with Angel. The two went to a fast food restaurant and started walking back to Eddie’s when an older man approached them. Georgia told Angel to run ahead of her so she couldn’t hear their conversation and the man took Georgia’s pager, most likely put his phone # into it, and then Georgia continued to walk Angel back home. When they got home, Georgia did Angel’s hair and Angel recalls sitting in the chair, looking down into Georgia’s plastic bag that she carried her personal items in, and seeing a pair of high heel shoes She asked Georgia if she could wear them and Georgia laughed and said: “you can’t wear my shoes.” When Georgia finished doing Angel’s hair, she tucked her in on the couch, told her she would be back and Angel watched her walk out the door not knowing that would be the last time Angel saw her big sister.
Georgia went back to her friend’s house and the friend said Georgia received a page which Georgia returned to the friend’s home phone. She arranged to meet the person on the phone at a convenient store nearby and the friend said the person who showed up to meet Georgia was a 24-30-year-old black male who was about 6’2 in height and 200 pounds driving a small white 4-door car. Georgia begged her friend to come to a party with them but the friend said her Mom wouldn’t allow it. Georgia replied saying “I have no choice, I have to go to this party because I have to take care of my family.” This is the last known sighting of Georgia Leah Moses.
I want you to take a moment and think about Georgia’s day-to-day life and compare it to most 12-year-olds lives in 1997. Most of them came home to a loving Mom or Dad fixing them dinner, they rode their bikes until the street lights came on, and they slept in the same bed every night. Meanwhile, Georgia was being exposed to drugs, alcohol, and sex. What kind of monsters would do this to a child? Was it someone she trusted that subjected her to this lifestyle?
On August 22nd, Angel hadn’t seen her sister for nine days when child protective services showed up at Eddie’s house because they heard he was living with his new girlfriend and her 7-year-old daughter. CPS knew of this information since April but said since there was no report of abuse, they had no reason to check on her until August. This should not have been the case as no sex offender should be living with minors whatsoever! Angel was already worried about Georgia because she hadn’t gone this long without seeing her before so she thought CPS was there to ask her about her sister. They kept asking her questions about Eddie and if he had touched her inappropriately but she was confused about how they knew what he was doing to her when nobody was around and just kept redirecting the conversation back to Georgia being missing. When CPS realized that another child lived in the home and hadn’t been seen for nine days, they filed a missing person report but little did they know, it was too late.
Later that day, a naked body was found off of HWY 101 by a Caltrans worker who was fixing a guard rail. Nowhere near this body were clothes found and the body was so decomposed they could not make a proper identification. It was falsely reported in the newspaper that the body belonged to an 18-40-year-old woman but it was actually the body of 12-year-old Georgia Leah Moses. Even though on August 22nd, a missing person’s file was filed because of Angel’s concern for her sister, police claim a missing persons report wasn’t made until August 25th by an anonymous tipster. Right from the start, the police were dropping the ball on this case.
Angel was placed in a children’s home after that CPS visit and a few days later she was informed in a very cold noncomforting way that her sister had died.
As if our system hadn’t failed Georgia enough, the way the media, investigators, and reporters handled her cases is nothing short of disrespectful. There were only five articles published about Georgia’s murder and many people in the community were putting the blame on Georgia herself because of the situation she was in but what 12-year-old truly has control of their living situation? Georgia was dealing with the cards she was dealt the best way she knew how. It took over a month for a description of the man she was last seen to be released, the people she was living with in the crack house were not looked into, and her middle name was reported as Lee on her death certificate when her middle name is Leah. They didn’t even look into the proper spelling of this child’s name and when asked why not, all they could say was it wasn’t protocol.
On October 24th, 1997, a memorial was held for Georgia Leah Moses without her body because at the time the coroner was still performing an autopsy. Angel, Ida, and friends gathered to tell stories about Georgia and grieve such a beautiful loss. When the coroner determined her cause of death, which was asphyxiation by strangulation or smothering, Georgia’s body was released to a cemetery owner, and Ida was never contacted about Georgia’s body. The cemetery owner claims he spoke with Ida about plans for Georgia’s funeral service but Ida says she never spoke with him. Angel now believes that he actually spoke with her aunt because a proper burial service for Georgia was held on June 17th, 1998 and when Angel found out, she asked her family if they knew anything about the service and nobody knew about it besides her aunt. Neither Ida nor Georgia were invited so they didn’t even get to say a proper goodbye.
In the months following Georgia’s murder, Angel was placed in a foster home and eventually had the choice to move to Atlanta to live with her aunt or stay in the foster home. The only way Angel would agree to move in with her Aunt is if her mom could come with her. Angel tried to move on from the pain of losing her sister but she lost more than just a sister I mean for a while, Georgia was one of the only people taking care of her and looking out for her. When Angel was around 10-11 years old, Ida decided to move back to New York so her sons could help her get back on her feet but the aunt seemed to have an issue with that and Angel lost contact with her brothers for over two decades. When Angel was 12 years old, her Aunt adopted her and made her call her Mom and Ida, Miss. Ida which was confusing and upsetting for Angel as she knew who her real Mom was.
The media caused more harm in Georgia’s case than they did good. They referred to her as a child prostitute, they referred to her as a troubled teen, they said she would probably be in jail if she was still alive or wouldn’t amount to much… they just victim-blamed her. Even parents in this community would say things like “If that was my child I wouldn’t let that happen to her” without knowing how hard Ida was trying to get assistance to give her daughters a better life. The media even let Eddie make statements about Georgia who painted her as a bad kid. Did reporters cost Georgia justice? It seems like every time they reported on her case, they only set the case back from finding out the truth.
From the very beginning, Georgia’s murder investigation was mishandled by everyone involved. Things that should have been looked into, weren’t. People who should have been questioned, still haven’t. Why weren’t the friend’s home phone records looked into? That could have easily told us who Georgia met at the gas station. Was the guard rail that was being repaired close to where Georgia was found, reported as damaged recently? Could that play a role in finding out who did this? Why weren’t the adults that Georgia was living with questioned? Why didn’t they report her missing when she never came home? Why did the school system let a 6th grader drop out without looking further into why or her situation at home? Georgia’s case is just another example of how our system has failed yet another child but why? Was it because she was African American? Was it because she grew up in poverty? Was it because the media painted the wrong picture of Georgia?
25 years later, Angel is still fighting for justice for her sister as there has been such little movement in Georgia’s case. Angel reached out to Sonoma County Sheriffs’ office a few times in 2010 to try to get an update on the case and was eventually told to stop calling. Angel has expressed that her family dynamic was broken so the push for the investigation to move forward just wasn’t there. Angel believes that the person responsible for Georgia’s death was someone she trusted. She bases this theory on conversations she has had with the people who supposedly cared about her that ended all communication with Angel when she asks questions about Georgia. It feels like the people who should have helped her the most fight for justice were against her the whole time. That alone shows you, they must know more than what they are telling. Those names remain unnamed and uninvestigated. There is hope for justice as a new cold case detective has been assigned to Georgia’s case and there has been talk about DNA testing being done.
As long as this post was, it only schemes the surface of Georgia’s story. Angel has a website dedicated to Georgia where you can donate to help her fight for justice and listen to her 16-part podcast series on her sister’s story which I highly encourage you to check out as it covers so much more of her case and life. There is currently a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for Georgia’s murder. If you have any information that could help the police please call the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office at 707-565-2185.
How can the people who have been placed in positions to serve justice and find out the truth, do so little for children who have been murdered? I want to know if you heard about this case and what your thoughts are in the comments below! Thank you guys so much for taking the time to read Georgia’s story! Please have a safe week!