SWAT standoff in Ga. uncovers dismembered body

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 20, 2013 at 9:27 pm •  Published: January 20, 2013
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Police went to Chad Moretz's home to ask him about a friend who had gone missing and quickly found themselves in a tense standoff when a relative answered the door and whispered: "He's got a rifle. He's going to kill y'all."

It was at least the fourth time in 18 months deputies had gone to see Moretz. Neighbors and relatives had accused him of chasing his wife with a machete, threatening to kill a man with a handgun and stabbing a dog with a pocket knife. But none of that prepared investigators for what they found Jan. 11 after Moretz walked onto his front porch with an assault rifle and was killed by a SWAT team sniper.

Inside the home, amid filth and roaches and foul odors, police found the missing man's severed head and two hands hidden behind a kitchen cabinet inside a hole in the wall. The rest of the body, dismembered by a power saw and wrapped in bags, was discovered in a storage locker a half-hour away in neighboring South Carolina.

"I don't believe there was a motive," said David Ehsanipoor, an investigator for the Effingham County Sheriff's Office. "It wasn't a drug deal gone bad or a love triangle. Chad was just crazy."

Medical examiners confirmed the body belonged to Charlie Ray, 35. Ray had been a friend of Moretz, and his family had been searching for him since New Year's Eve.

An autopsy showed Ray was stabbed more than 40 times and had been dead more than a week before his remains were found. Moretz's wife told investigators her husband and Ray had been drinking and talking, then started arguing. She said Moretz grabbed a knife and started repeatedly stabbing Ray in their kitchen, Ehsanipoor said. Investigators suspect Ray's body was dismembered to make it easier to hide.

Ray's mother, Sandi Ray, said in a brief phone interview her son struggled with Tourette's syndrome.

Megan Edgerly, a friend of Ray's since childhood, said the debilitating brain disorder left him unable to drive or to hold down a job. She said he handled his tics — flailing arms and vocal outbursts — with grace and humor and treasured friends who accepted him in spite of it.

"Charlie never had a frown on his face," Edgerly said. "He was dealt a bad hand, but he always maintained a real positive attitude throughout all of it."

Moretz lived about 20 miles from where Ray lived with his parents. Moretz had moved there from southwest Florida, where violence devastated his own family a year and a half ago.

His father is scheduled to stand trial in April for the slaying of Moretz's mother in Naples, Fla. Police said Jeffrey Moretz, 55, followed his estranged wife, Christine Moretz, to a hospital and fatally shot her while she was visiting a friend on July 5, 2011. He then shot himself, but survived. Court records show Jeffrey Moretz filed for divorce in Collier County, Fla., two weeks before his wife's slaying.

One of Chad Moretz's neighbors, Ross Maruca, said Moretz didn't work and let his grass grow knee-high before Maruca decided to cut it himself. He said Moretz once showed up at his door and asked his wife for food and money. She gave him $20, he said, and Moretz later paid it back.

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