During their March 2 meeting, North Myrtle Beach City Council members recognized the detectives who worked to solve the 1996 Shawn Marie Neal case. Neal was murdered on June 2, 1996 in North Myrtle Beach. Detectives and SLED investigated, but with few leads, the case went cold.
North Myrtle Beach detectives did not give up on the case and in 2017, relying on advances in DNA collection and cataloging, detectives reopened the Neal investigation, hoping to bring closure for the victim’s family members and to serve justice.
Some murder scene items suspected of containing additional DNA material were sent to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department Forensic Lab for analysis. The lab identified a new DNA profile of a previously unknown suspect, Ronald Lee Moore.
North Myrtle Beach detectives learned Moore was a suspect in a series of burglaries, unsolved sexual assault cases and an additional unsolved homicide case from Maryland. Review of those case files showed close similarities between Moore’s suspected victims in Maryland and the Neal homicide.
Moore had no known ties to North Myrtle Beach but detectives learned he had friends in Louisiana he would visit. It is possible that he committed the 1996 murder as he passed through city on his way from Maryland to Louisiana.
Probable cause was established to charge Moore with the death of Shawn Marie Neal.
Ultimately, public records revealed Moore died while jailed in Louisiana on unrelated charges in 2008. Moore cannot be formally charged and tried for the murder of Shawn Marie Neal but North Myrtle Beach detectives were able to close this case, noting that the only known suspect/offender died.
Over the years, 13 North Myrtle Beach detectives were involved to varying degrees in helping to move this case forward to closure.