On June 2, 1996, 23-year-old Shawn Marie Neal was found deceased in a condominium at 3217 South Ocean Boulevard in North Myrtle Beach. An indepth investigation was undertaken by the North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety (NMBDPS) with assistance from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Despite the investigators’ best efforts, the case went “cold” and remained unsolved.
In November 2017, relying on advances in investigative technology that include DNA collection and cataloging, NMBDPS investigators reopened the Neal investigation. Their goal was to bring closure to the victim’s family members and to serve justice.
NMBDPS investigators conducted a thorough review of the 1996 case and all evidence collected during the initial investigation. They located several items suspected of containing additional DNA material. The technology needed to analyze the material was unavailable in 1996 but available in 2017.
NMBPSD investigators sent the items to the Richland County (South Carolina) Sheriff’s Department Forensic Lab for analysis and the lab identified a new DNA profile of a previously unknown suspect. The DNA profile was put through a national DNA database and matched that of Ronald Lee Moore.
Further investigation revealed that Moore had also been named a suspect in a series of burglaries, unsolved sexual assault cases and an additional unsolved homicide case from Baltimore County (Maryland) in 1999. A review of the case files revealed striking similarities between Moore’s suspected victims in Maryland and the Neal homicide in North Myrtle Beach.
Investigation showed that Moore had no discernible ties to North Myrtle Beach either as a visitor or as a resident. However, detectives did learn that Moore had friends in Louisiana that he would visit and it is possible that while traveling from Maryland to Louisiana, he passed through North Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand and committed the 1996 homicide.
The newly discovered DNA evidence, together with other evidence, led NMBDPS investigators to determine that probable cause would exist to charge Ronald Lee Moore with the homicide of Shawn Marie Neal on June 2, 1996. Public records revealed that Ronald Lee Moore died while jailed in Louisiana on unrelated charges in 2008. Thus, Moore cannot be formally charged and tried for the murder of Shawn Neal. NMBDPS investigators will close the Shawn Neal case, noting that the only known suspect/offender died.
The NMBDPS continues to work with other agencies including the Baltimore County Homicide Unit, SLED, and the FBI to determine if there are any other unsolved cases that can be attributed to Ronald Lee Moore.