Robert Moormann, the notorious killer scheduled for execution Wednesday, could
be a character in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
He's a pudgy, bald man with oversize eyeglasses who speaks with a childish
affectation in a croaking old man's voice. He is 63 years old and looks a
decade older, yet his prison mates, his attorneys and the mental-health
professionals who have evaluated him say he has the reasoning and judgment of a
On Jan. 12, 1984, while on a furlough from prison, Moormann tied his
74-year-old mother to a bed in the Blue Mist Motel in Florence, beat her and
then suffocated her with a pillow. Then, he meticulously cut her body into
pieces and distributed the parts to garbage cans behind local businesses.
The crime-scene photos are ghastly: Maude's head being lifted out of a garbage
bag, her feet lying on a table like cobbler's forms, her bones in a bloody box.
More shocking: Moormann, his lawyers and mental-health evaluators say the
murder came after years of abuse in which Maude Moormann made her adoptive son
perform sex acts and even arranged his prison furloughs to that end.
The prosecution, on the other hand, said that the crime was premeditated and
that Moormann was looking to take over his mother's considerable assets.
Moormann was found guilty of 1st-degree murder in 1985, and a judge
subsequently sentenced him to death. After 28 years, that sentence is about to
be carried out.
Barring any last-minute legal miracles, Moormann will be executed Wednesday at
the Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence. The state's last execution was in
July 2011, when Thomas West, 52, died by lethal injection.
By every account, Moormann's life has been a nightmare.
He was born Bobby Conger in Tucson on June 4, 1948, to a 15-year-old girl who
drank heavily and engaged in prostitution, according to court records and
testimony at Moormann's clemency hearing. The baby's father abandoned his new
family, and the mother died in an accident at age 17, so baby Bobby went to
live with his maternal grandparents until he was put up for adoption because of
his grandfather's alcohol abuse.
After stays in foster homes, he was adopted by a Flagstaff couple, Henry and
Roberta Maude Moormann, when he was 2 and a half. Henry Moormann owned a
taxicab company, and after he died, his wife remained single and raised their
adopted son Robert, and, according to testimony at the clemency hearing, forced
him to engage in sexual acts with her.
Moormann was classified as mentally retarded while in public school and
attended special-education classes. His 1st stay in a state mental hospital
occurred when he was 13 after he accidentally shot his mother. During his
clemency hearing, Moormann said he was hiding a .22-caliber rifle in his bed.
His mother came into his room and sat on the bed, and when he pulled the gun
out to show her, it discharged.
After Moormann graduated high school, he attended barber college, but did not
work as a barber. Instead, he worked menial U.S. Forest Service jobs and bused
He had his 1st run-in with the law in January 1972, when he kidnapped an
8-year-old neighbor and family friend and tried to drive her to Las Vegas in
his mother's car. He had wanted to kidnap and rape the girl's mother, but lost
his nerve and took the girl instead, according to court testimony.
They spent 2 nights in motels along the way, Moormann forcing the girl to
perform sex acts. Then, when Moormann got the car stuck near Temple Bar, he and
the girl hitchhiked the rest of the way to Las Vegas. A car picked them up near
Hoover Dam and drove them to a police station.
Moormann was convicted of kidnapping -- he claimed it occurred because he had
stopped taking medication -- and he was sentenced to 9 years to life in prison.
He was paroled in January 1979, but was returned to prison 10 months later
because he could not abide by the terms of parole.
In 1984, prisoners at state prisons could apply for 72-hour compassionate
furloughs to meet with relatives or for conjugal visits. Maude Moormann came
down from Flagstaff and the 2 stayed in Room 22 of the Blue Mist Motel, across
the street from the prison complex in Florence. It was the 3rd furlough they'd
On the 2nd evening of the furlough, Moormann came to a local pizzeria and asked
the owner if he could dump some cow guts in the garbage cans behind the
restaurant. The owner said no, and because he worked at the prison and
recognized Moormann, he called police, who paid Moormann a visit.
Moormann first said that his mother was ill and later said she had recovered
and gone to visit friends.
They also discovered that Moormann had told other business owners that he'd
wanted to dump some rotting hamburger meat and that he had given a prison
employee a box full of spoiled "dog bones," saying there wasn't room for them
in the motel dumpster.
The prison employee dutifully picked them up some time after midnight.
Investigators eventually recovered Maude's dismembered body from several
garbage cans. The "dog bones" were also Maude's.
Moormann confessed to police as he was sitting in the backseat of a squad car.
He told police that he had "dissected" his mother while he was in the nude and
that he had lost one of her fingers for a while, then flushed it down the
toilet when he found it.
Before his trial, Moormann told a court-ordered psychologist that he had been
having an affair with his mother for years and that on the night of the murder,
she had asked him to perform sex acts. During one of them, he put a pillow over
her face to quiet her. He claimed he had accidentally killed her.
He meticulously dismembered her and put her body parts in garbage bags or
The jury disregarded his insanity defense and found Moormann guilty of
1st-degree murder. He was sentenced to death.
During Friday's clemency hearing, Moormann said he no longer remembered details
of the murder other than touching his mother's breasts while she was tied to a
bed and later carrying her body to the bathroom.
"I remember she was tied up, but I don't remember doing it," he said. "I just
remember seeing my hands doing things."
Moormann has lived quietly in prison, but his health has deteriorated.
He had a major stroke in 2007. Last September, Moormann was rushed to the
hospital for an emergency appendectomy, and doctors discovered that he had
several blocked arteries in his heart. In November, he returned to the hospital
for a quintuple bypass.
On Feb. 16, he was again rushed to the hospital after complaining of abdominal
pain and becoming unresponsive in a prison infirmary. Arizona Department of
Corrections officials refused to comment on his condition.
He had recovered sufficiently by Friday to speak at his clemency hearing.
(source: Arizona Republic)