Decomposing body found in Montgomery Co. gas station shooting suspect’s home

A suspect is in custody for the shooting death of a White Oak, Maryland, gas station employee Thursday afternoon — and authorities later found a woman dead in his apartment.

Montgomery County officials said 31-year-old Torrey Moore was arrested Friday morning and accused of killing 61-year-old Ayalew Wondimu, a clerk at a Shell gas station convenience store, the day prior.

At a news conference later on Friday, Police Chief Marcus Jones said officers searching Moore’s home found a woman in an “advanced state of decomposition” believed to have been pregnant at the time of her death.

“We have information that leads us to believe that she may have been about eight months pregnant,” Jones said. “We will have to wait for the medical examiner to give us details on that upon their examination.”

Montgomery County police chief Marcus Jones at the news conference on Torrey Moore. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)

Detectives said Moore entered the Dash In store at 11150 New Hampshire Avenue around 3 p.m. Thursday. Moore then took a bottle of iced tea and approached the front counter, staffed by Wondimu, a Silver Spring resident.

Based on surveillance footage and witness accounts, investigators believe an argument began between Moore and Wondimu and quickly escalated into a physical altercation. Law enforcement have reviewed video allegedly showing Moore throwing merchandise at Wondimu, who attempted to fight back from behind the counter with a metal pole.

Moore is then accused of pulling a handgun from under his vest and shooting Wondimu multiple times before fleeing the scene. Moore purportedly struck Wondimu at “point-blank range” and “senselessly” reached over the counter to continue firing, per Chief Jones, even after the clerk had fallen.

“To have a dispute over a container of iced tea at a convenience store, and to have it rise to the level that an individual would then pull out a handgun and brutally murder someone in broad daylight, is very troubling to me,” Jones said. “I think anyone in this community would say the same thing.”

Authorities tracked Moore to his residence across Lockwood Drive at the Enclave Silver Spring Apartments. A Montgomery County SWAT unit executed a search warrant there on Friday morning, and arrested Moore while making a shocking discovery — the decaying body of a woman.

According to Jones, Moore later told detectives he had been in a relationship with the woman, that she was eight months pregnant, and that she had been killed during “some kind of fight between the two” about a month ago. Due to the body’s deterioration, officials are waiting on a medical examiner’s report to verify the woman’s identity and stage of pregnancy.

“We had no reports of any missing individuals from that location that fit her description, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Jones said. “We’re a little bit amazed that we did not receive any calls, none we’ve seen so far, that would have given us indication something was occurring within that apartment.”

Interviews with the store’s staff, Jones added, suggest Moore was a frequent customer with a history of confronting employees.

Moore has been charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm while committing a felony; a gun was also recovered from Moore’s home. Officials said more charges are possible once an autopsy is carried out and the woman is identified.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the county’s major crimes division by calling 240-773-5070. Tips can be submitted anonymously toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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