SWAT standoff leads to dismembered body, suspect's violent history

Suspect killed by sniper following standoff with police

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SAVANNAH, Ga. — 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.”

Chad Moretz was killed by a SWAT team sniper after a four-hour standoff with police.  Uncredited
Chad Moretz was killed by a SWAT team sniper after a four-hour standoff with police.

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.

“You could look at him and tell something was wrong, just the look he had,” Maruca said. “He looked like he was dazed all the time.”

Deputies jailed Moretz on July 23, 2011 – not quite three weeks after his mother was killed – when his brother-in-law told police he’d received a frantic phone call from his sister saying Moretz was chasing her with a machete. Moretz’s wife denied the story.

Deputies charged Chad Moretz with trespassing when they found him hiding by a shed in a neighbor’s yard.

Last May, neighbors called the sheriff’s office when they said Moretz stabbed a dog that had gotten loose after he was bitten several times. In November, a friend told police Moretz asked for a ride, and when he refused, he pointed the gun at him and threatened to kill him and his family.

Deputies arrested Moretz on charges of making terroristic threats on Dec. 22. Jail records show he was released on $3,500 bond the same day.

Almost two weeks later, Maruca called police after seeing a TV news report that Charlie Ray was missing. Maruca knew Ray because he had lived at Moretz’s house for two or three months the previous summer. The neighbor said he saw Ray at the house Jan. 2.

Police initially talked to Moretz’s wife, who said Ray wasn’t there. Days later, they decided to return to the suburban neighborhood of modest brick homes to talk to Moretz himself. His brother-in-law, Kevin Lambert, met detectives at the door and whispered a warning.

“He said, ‘Chad’s in here, he’s got a rifle, he’s going to kill y’all,’” Ehsanipoor said.

Detectives dragged Lambert out of the house and retreated. Moretz, armed with an assault rifle, refused to come out or to let his wife leave. A hostage negotiator and a SWAT team were brought in.

After more than four hours, Moretz’s wife ran outside through the front door and collapsed in the yard. Then Moretz emerged with an AR-15 rifle. Ehsanipoor said he was raising the gun when a sniper shot him.

Though investigators say they believe Moretz alone killed Ray, his wife and brother-in-law have been charged with helping conceal the death. Kimberly Moretz did not immediately return a message left at a phone number listed for her on a police report. Lambert did not have a listed phone number.

Investigators said it was one of the siblings who told authorities during the standoff that Ray’s remains were hidden in a storage locker in nearby Jasper, S.C.

“Everybody’s still in a state of shock,” said Edgerly, Ray’s longtime friend. “This isn’t supposed to happen.”

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OpenCurtain 01/20/13 - 10:01 pm
Way too many extra chances.

When were the Police going to actually keep him in jail or a judge forcibly place him in Nut home for evaluation. BTW: Involuntary commitment at any point would have allowed the seizure of all weapons.

Because of nut cases like this, liberals want everybody's guns.
When it is the liberals fighting to allow the nutcase to stay on the street to begin with, causing the problems.

Techfan 01/21/13 - 05:55 am
Yet another of America's

Yet another of America's intelligent, safe, responsible gun owners.

seenitB4 01/21/13 - 10:25 am
Mental hospitals

Bring them back....

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 01/21/13 - 11:30 am

Liberals do not want to have society pay to confine people so mentally ill that they cannot care for themselves. At the same time, liberals want to infringe on sane, law-abiding individuals and make it difficult for them to obtain weapons.

SuzyQ 01/21/13 - 12:38 pm
Mental Health & Guns

Again we hear of tragedy at the hands of the mentally ill who have access to weapons. Unfortunately- this is the area in which no one will be able to change- patient's have privacy rights and apparently their mental health privacy is more important than the rights of decent, mentally healthy citizens who own guns. From the story- this is not the 1st time this guy was in trouble-yet the warning flags were not acknolwedged. As far as his Tourette’s syndrome- I have met and dealt with people who are plagued with this. I have never known any to use this syndrome as a reason to murder, terrorize or inflict harm to helpless and defenseless creatures. Glad he was taken out- for the benefit of his family and the members of the community.

itsanotherday1 01/21/13 - 02:40 pm
It was the "assault" weapon....

Geez Louise!!!!!!!!! Could the reporter have fallen any deeper into the hysteria?

What flippin difference does it make WHAT kind of weapon this nutball had? Would they have shot just to "wing" him if he had been holding a .22 or a .410 shotgun? NOT A CHANCE!

itsanotherday1 01/21/13 - 02:41 pm

I almost made the same error, the article is sloppily done.

The victim was the one with Tourette's.

KSL 01/21/13 - 09:16 pm
Saves the costs of a trial

Saves the costs of a trial and/or prison or commitment.

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