Vail suspect pleaded for return of guns
VAIL, Colorado – Vail murder suspect Richard “Rossi” Moreau sent letters to authorities trying to reclaim his guns after making a guilty plea in 2001.
“In all these years, I’ve never had any problem with firearm safety,” Moreau wrote in a letter to Judge Thomas Moorhead in 2005. “This was a stupid, unfortunate mistake that happened with a new gun. I thank the Lord every day that this didn’t result in injury or death.”
The letter was written after the end of a four-year probation that was issued to Moreau after he pleaded guilty to illegal discharge of a firearm, a felony.
“This was the only time that I’ve ever had a loaded firearm in my house, and it’s something that will never happen again,” Moreau wrote in the letter. “I’m now 59 years old, don’t drink or do drugs and live a quiet life alone, except for my three cats.”
Police say Moreau, 63, shot four people at the Sandbar in West Vail on Saturday night. One of the victims, 70-year-old Gary Bruce Kitching, a Carbondale physician, died at the scene after being shot three times, authorities said.
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According to an affidavit filed with the court, Moreau told police he had drank a half of a bottle of whiskey earlier Saturday as well as three drinks at the Sandbar. Moreau also told police he takes Xanax and other prescription drugs, according to the affidavit, which was filed by Vail Police Detective Jessica Mayes. Vail K-9 Officer Ryan Millbern noted that Moreau smelled like marijuana, the document said.
A witness told police that Moreau pulled a handgun out of his waistband and began firing, according to the affidavit. Police say they cannot find any record of Moreau holding a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
In the handwritten 2005 letter, Moreau was requesting the return of one .44-caliber gun and one .45-caliber gun.
“The rest of my weapons were released to me (by the Vail Police Department),” he wrote.
Police say Moreau used a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun in Saturday’s shootings.
In the letter, Moreau tells the judge he was in the Army, “connected to Special Operations,” and earned Purple Hearts and other decorations. The POW Network, a group that researches the records of veterans, has said it doubts some of Moreau’s claims about his service based on its own database of veterans records. Moreau has said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing combat in Vietnam.
“I became very knowledgeable about many firearms, ballistics and learned the art of reloading my own ammunition,” Moreau wrote of his military service. “I don’t hunt, but I do enjoy target shooting.”
About three weeks later, Moreau again submitted the letter with a new note saying he had not received a reply, court records show.
“At this point I feel that I’m being ignored and punished and I don’t know why,” Moreau wrote.
There was some question as to what law enforcement agency held the guns, court notes indicate.
Moreau’s 2001 guilty plea stemmed from an incident that occurred on or around Nov. 10, 1999, records show.
Moreau “did knowingly and recklessly discharge a firearm into a dwelling or other building or occupied structure,” according to the complaint filed in the criminal case against Moreau.
Connie Cenac, a Jacksonville, Fla., resident, said this week that a bullet hole was found in the bedroom wall of her second home in the Lion’s Mane complex in Vail in 1999.
“If I would have been sitting up in bed reading, I would have been killed if that bullet came through this wall,” Cenac said.
According to court documents, Cenac’s property was damaged in the incident, and Moreau was ordered to pay her $800 in restitution.
Vail Police have not yet released the police report from the incident.
In a separate case in 1998, Moreau pleaded guilty to prohibited use of a weapon. As part of his one-year probation, he was not allowed to possess guns, court records show. A 1999 judge’s order in the case mandated that a .45-caliber automatic pistol be returned to its owner, Darlene Hoffman, who has described herself as Moreau’s friend and former psychologist.
In the case, Moreau was also initially charged with reckless endangerment, prohibited use of a weapon under the influence and obstructing a peace officer, court documents show. The last charge involved Brad Baldwin of the Vail Police, records show. Those three charges were dropped, according to court records.
Vail Police have not yet released the police report from that incident, which, according to court records, occurred on or around Sept. 1, 1998.
On Sept. 22, 1998, Moreau wrote a letter to Judge Terri Diem requesting a continuance in the case. He wrote that the encounter with Vail Police had left him able to sleep just a couple of hours a night.
“Every loud noise that I hear, I expect the VPD to show up again,” he wrote. “Along with this, one of my 15-year-old cats died, and I’m dealing with that.”
He added that he was due to undergo oral surgery.
A continuance of about three weeks was granted.
A third court file released Friday shows Moreau pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired in 2001. A summons from Deputy Heath Mosness of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office says Moreau’s blood alcohol content was measured at 0.221 percent after he was pulled over on the offramp at Eagle at 1:45 p.m. on June 6, 2000.
One victim of Saturday’s shooting, 63-year-old Jim Lindley, of Vail, remains hospitalized. His condition was described Friday as critical but stable in a Denver hospital.
Prosecutors are pursuing charges of first-degree murder against Moreau. His next court appearance is set for Dec. 1.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.