‘Charles lived fiercely every day’: Wife of former Montgomery Co. police chief recalls his life

Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose, who became the public face of the 2002 investigation into the Beltway Sniper rampage, was determined to squeeze as much out of life as possible, his wife said.

“Charles lived fiercely every day from the time his mother died,” Sandy Moose told WTOP in a series of emails sent since his death Thanksgiving Day at their home in Florida. Charles Moose was 68.

His wife said an autopsy determined Moose died of natural causes, including high cholesterol, kidney disease and diabetes.

“Charles was on a statin” to control his high cholesterol, according to Sandy Moose, who says he had been treated for kidney disease until a few years ago. “Charles fluctuated into prediabetic range several times — he monitored it.”

Charles Moose was hired as Montgomery County’s police chief in 1999, after becoming the first Black police chief in Portland, Oregon, in 1993.

During three weeks in October 2002, 13 people were shot and 10 killed across the D.C. region in a series of seemingly random shooting attacks carried out by 41-year-old John Allen Muhammad and 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo, who came to be known as the Beltway Snipers. Moose held several news conferences a day, many broadcast live on cable news and watched across the country.

Long before becoming a police chief, Moose had suffered personal losses.

“Charles’ mother died at age 40,” when he was in his mid-teens, Sandy Moose said. “Charles’ brother died at age 35,” and his father died, at approximately 60 years of age, when Moose was in his 20s.

Those losses shaped his future: “Charles lived fiercely every day from the time his mother died — trying to accomplish as much as he could, while enjoying life,” said his wife.

Sandy Moose is planning a celebration of her husband’s life — likely to be held “in Portland, at the precinct where he cut his teeth,” with participation from the Montgomery County department and the Honolulu police department, where he worked after retiring from the Maryland department. Moose’s book, “Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the Serial Sniper” was published in 2003.

“I’m sure going to miss him,” said his wife. “Our life together was turbocharged, from the night I met him at graduate school to his last breath.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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