The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said deputies received a tip at 11:30 a.m. about a body from someone walking on Carmel Avenue in New Port Richey, 40 miles northwest of Tampa. Sheriff Chris Nocco said the woman was identified as 34-year-old Kathleen Moore based on her tattoos.
She was found in a wooded area and was covered by thick brush in an area that was previously searched, he said.
“She was definitely covered on purpose to make sure nobody would come upon her,” Nocco said. “Even as detectives will tell you, even when you’re two feet away from her, it’s hard to see that her body was there.”
He noted that investigators had been focused on 14 industrial-sized dumpsters that needed to be searched before they were hauled off to a landfill. Investigators had previously found blood-stained clothing in the dumpsters, Nocco said.
A cause of death has not been determined, said Pasco County Sgt. Michael Rosa. Investigators are also working to determine when Moore died.
She was last seen alive on the night of Nov. 28 while at a bar in Largo with her boyfriend, Collin Knapp, 30 and some friends, Nocco said Monday. Witnesses said Moore and Knapp were arguing before they left.
Knapp drove to a 7-Eleven near his home later that night and claimed that Moore was in the car at the time. However, Nocco said that surveillance video did not give a clear view inside Knapp’s vehicle.
Knapp also claimed that Moore went home with him before leaving on foot with her backpack the next morning. Nocco said that there was no evidence of Moore’s whereabouts during that time or since.
Knapp has been charged with second-degree homicide in connection to the case.
Knapp has 10 previous felony arrests and nine misdemeanor arrests since 2004, according to Nocco, some of which included aggravated assault, aggravated battery and domestic violence. Moore was not involved in those previous instances.
A team of retired law enforcement officers who work as private investigators found Moore’s body near Knapp’s home after re-tracing his version of events that night Moore was last seen alive.
“In my honest opinion, I believe he put the body there after they [investigators] searched [the area],” Billy Lane, one of the private investigators, told Fox News. “I think he took the body after they left, thinking ‘They’ll never come back.'”
The state of Moore’s body also raised questions for Lane.
“There should have been more decomposition, a smell of decomposition and there have been more flies there than what there were, which makes me think he preserved the body somehow,” he added.
Knapp has refused to cooperate with investigators, officials have said. Before ending the news conference, Nocco had a message for the suspected killer.
“There’s a God who knows everything and he cannot take back what he did in this case but what he can do is make something positive going forward,” he said. “Answer the ‘why’ because we have the evidence. We have Kathleen now.”