Two Montgomery County, Maryland, parents are facing second-degree murder charges for failing to provide their 17-year-old child with necessary medical care and slowly watching the teenager die in the living room of their home, prosecutors argued in court Thursday afternoon.
Dominique and Cynthia Moore were arrested after their child died in their home in May 2022. Detectives described living conditions of the Montgomery Village home as unsanitary and unsafe.
Appearing before District Court Judge Eric John Nee, Dominique Moore was ordered to be held without bond until a preliminary hearing in June. Nee said based on the charging documents, there would be a concern for the community’s safety and the safety of the couple’s other children if he were to be released.
Cynthia Moore’s bond hearing is scheduled for Friday. Both parents are also facing six counts of neglect of a minor.
Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, Nee said.
“These conditions were horrific,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said outside of the courthouse in Rockville. “No running water, no usable toilets, feces on the floor.”
On May 10, 2022, Montgomery County police arrived at 9411 Quill Place, where Cynthia told officials that their teenage child was unresponsive, according to charging documents. She told police the teenager had multiple sclerosis, diabetes and lingering effects from a COVID-19 infection.
Cynthia gave the teenager apple juice, and she eventually collapsed after what Cynthia described as the child having a hard time trying to cough up mucus. First responders declared the teenager dead soon thereafter.
Cynthia told police the teenager hadn’t seen a doctor in several years, according to charging documents.
Detectives, according to charging documents, explained the teenager appeared emaciated and described a series of “unsafe and unsanitary” living conditions. Animal feces was on the floor throughout the house, toilets didn’t appear to be functional, a living room fridge had little food and the windows were covered with blankets.
“It is disturbing to us,” McCarthy said of the living conditions in the home.
In court Thursday, a prosecutor said the teenager’s health had been deteriorating in the months before the teen’s death, and that the home didn’t have enough beds for all of the children who lived there.
The teenager weighed 79 pounds at the time of death, according to charging documents. An autopsy ruled the death a homicide and said it was caused by “complications of neurological disorder.”
In the autopsy report, the pathologist said, “The child was not provided adequate care she would have been dependent upon for the medical condition she suffered from.”
The six other children who lived in the house have since been placed into foster care, charging documents said, and detectives were unable to get significant medical records for them. Eventually, officials learned none of them were up to date on childhood shots, and that appointments would be made but then canceled, or the kids wouldn’t show up.
The kids were home-schooled, and officials said the children showed signs of developmental delays and couldn’t give “realistic” accounts of their school day when asked, according to charging documents.
The couple also has three children over age 18.
A family member told officials the kids would only talk to people outside of their immediate family using an Xbox gaming console, according to charging documents.
Officials, charging documents said, concluded there was no evidence that either parent made any attempts to address the teenager’s medical issues.
Meanwhile, Dominique’s public defender said he has been through therapy and counseling, regularly calls his children and has obtained a housing voucher and a full-time job.
Cynthia’s mother, Cynthia Jones, described the situation as hurtful in front of the courthouse.
“I just want to help my child and my grandchildren,” Jones said. “I just want this situation to be eradicated.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove mention of the victim’s gender.