Murder victim was on an exercise walk when he was stabbed to death, says granddaughter

·4 min read

Sep. 7—A man stabbed to death on a popular south Manchester walking trail was a great-grandfather who started taking daily walks years ago after surviving open-heart surgery, his distraught granddaughter said Tuesday.

Justina Whitmore showed up at Hillsborough County Superior Court for the arraignment of Raymond Moore, 41, on a charge of second-degree murder.

The slaying took place Friday on the walking trail that skirts the west side of Nutt's Pond and can be accessed through Precourt Park.

The victim, Daniel Whitmore, 75, was born and raised in Manchester and worked most of his life as a contractor before heart problems forced him into retirement, his granddaughter said.

"He would walk that trail everyday," Justina Whitmore told reporters outside the courtroom. "He was laid-back, very quiet and easygoing."

In a series of tweets Sunday, Mayor Joyce Craig said Moore had twice been arrested for violent crimes this summer, and Hillsborough County judges twice released him. Her office said the arrests were in Manchester and Nashua.

She called on New Hampshire lawmakers to strengthen bail laws in the state, legislation that was rejected by the Legislature earlier this year.

"Our criminal justice system cannot continue releasing violent offenders back onto our streets," Craig tweeted.

Court records show that Moore, whose most recent address is Forest, Mississippi, had been released on bail after a July knife attack in downtown Manchester.

Moore was charged with first-degree assault for allegedly threatening to kill another man, brandishing a folding knife and trying to slash a victim in the stomach. The man told police he jumped back to avoid the knife.

When Moore appeared in court, Superior Court Judge Will Delker released him on his own recognizance, with orders to not possess any weapons, refrain from drugs and excessive alcohol and show up at court on Sept. 12 for a routine status conference hearing.

"Absolutely unacceptable," Justina Whitmore said about Moore's release on bail. "This recent incident, it seems to me ... it was almost bound to happen."

Shawn Sweeney, first assistant to Hillsborough County Attorney John Coughlin, said his prosecutor argued in court that Moore was dangerous and should not be released before bail.

"The judge released the defendant anyway," Sweeney said.

The case seemed to have its problems. Moore told police he was sitting in a car at the old police station and was surrounded by homeless people threatening to beat him up, suggesting a self-defense claim.

Police were unable to find a knife, though Moore had a sheath on his belt and the alleged victim pointed to where he believed Moore threw the knife. Moore's public defender in both cases, Robert Swales, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

Now charged with second-degree murder, Moore is ineligible for immediate bail. He did not appear in Hillsborough County Superior Court on Tuesday.

His lawyers met with homicide prosecutors, and a judge scheduled a bail hearing for Oct. 11.

Justina Whitmore said she had urged her grandfather to move from Manchester because of crime, drug use and homelessness.

Moore was homeless at the time of his arrest. In July, he told police he had been in the city for about a week and was from Mississippi.

"Certainly, people living in the woods is not acceptable. It's a danger to the public," Justina Whitmore said.

According to Nashua police, patrol officers arrested Moore following a verbal altercation with another person. He allegedly armed himself with an improvised weapon and refused to comply with orders from police.

He refused the services of the bail commissioner and was transported to Valley Street jail, according to Nashua police Lt. Joshua Albert, who was unaware of what happened after that.

Whitmore's wife, daughter and great-grandson, who is 11, are taking his death hard.

Justina Whitmore said her grandfather took daily walks by himself to keep healthy following surgery, which was at least 10 years ago.

His body was discovered Friday morning on the paved walking trail that skirts the west side of Nutt's Pond.

The trail has drawn homeless people from time to time. In early August, a man was found dead floating in the water.

Daniel Whitmore dismissed his granddaughter's warnings about him walking the rail trail alone. He told her he stayed in proper areas.

"He would always say he's fine, he's fine," she said.