GREENVILLE, Texas (CBS 11 NEWS) – When 16-year-old Alicia Moore disappeared from her Greenville bus stop last year, it was clear that the community cared. Strangers searched, prayed, and tied on purple ribbons. And, prior to her murder, someone questioned whether the special needs teen was safe.
A referral was made to Child Protective Services alleging possible abuse or neglect. But, CPS officials won’t say when that referral was made… telling CBS 11 that the agency is “not at liberty to release any details of our possible involvements with the Moore family.” According to CPS Spokesperson Marissa Gonzales, “she was not in foster care, so any details would not be public record.”
However, three felony indictments unsealed today name three CPS caseworkers connected to that initial investigation. Laura Ard, Natalie Ausbie Reynolds, and Rebekah Ross were arrested and charged with tampering with evidence. They have since posted bail and been released from jail. Reynolds and Ross face additional charges of official oppression. But, those charges do not involve the Alicia Moore case.
Hunt County officials say the evidence tampering charges stem from the caseworkers’ handling of that initial referral. The indictments mention a risk assessment of the home of the murdered girl’s mother, Aretha Moore.
Many in Greenville now question whether enough was done to keep the teen safe – before she disappeared. Terry Ramshire , 49, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the teen for years, and was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Alicia’s Uncle – Michael Moore – is now jailed awaiting trial on capital murder charges after the teen’s body was found dumped along a road in Van Zandt county.
Those who knew the teen say the new revelations are both sad and disappointing.
“You expect CPS to take care of kids and look after them,” says Oshay Carter. “But, you can see that didn’t happen. You expect more of them.”
Local law enforcement officials say the arrest s will likely make their jobs more difficult going forward.
“I think initially it will,” says Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks, “but, I want the public to understand that this is an isolated case and we will continue to work with CPS to keep kids safe.”
Hunt County District Attorney Nobie Walker declined to speak on camera about the indictments—but, says his office is already reviewing other cases connected to the CPS workers and does not believe that those prosecutions will be jeopardized. Still, he is disappointed. “This is unusual here… this is unusual anywhere,” says DA Walker. “CPS does the best they can and they usually do a pretty good job. This is a setback.”
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