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Suspect Apprehended in Sioux City Massacre

Aired August 31, 2001 - 12:58   ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you live to Sioux City, Iowa, a family has been massacred there. In fact, seven people have been murdered. A man this family knew is the suspect. Police consider him armed and dangerous and he's still on the run. So we're going to get the latest now in this news conference.

QUESTION: Where did you catch him? And how did they capture him?


QUESTION: Where did you catch him? And how did they capture him?

FRISBIE: We climbed through some of our own officers to a surveillance team that we had out on a particular location; 713 West 7th Street was the address I was given on the apprehension.

QUESTION: Was he inside the home? Outside?

FRISBIE: I don't have all that information because it just come in. I was just informed by my investigators that the apprehension was been made, he is in custody, and we are presently talking to him at this time.


FRISBIE: I'm not going to disclose that at this time, OK?


FRISBIE: Because you can understand, I don't want that kind of thing going on around this interview situation.


QUESTION: Can you talk more about how the victims died? Or can you reveal (ph) any of that information yet?

FRISBIE: How they what?

QUESTION: How they died. What manner. How they were killed.

FRISBIE: No. I will -- I'll tell you, the next news release I have, which I will probably schedule -- I'm trying to figure out what would be a reasonable amount of time -- I can certainly do one like every two hours. And I'll have the next news release at 2:00. Let's say that, OK? Because a lot should be happening within that amount of time. And we'll just kind of see where it goes from there.

But I might be able to talk a lot more about it at that point. If interrogation process or the interview process is not over by then it might take a while longer and I'll just set another news release at that point.

But as I promised you before, we will not withhold information that is -- information that the public has a right to, and we'll certainly do that -- we'll try to do it in such a fashion we're we do not damage this case, obviously. I think you can understand that, but we'll undoubtedly be able to give you a lot more than what we've been given you up to this point.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Chief, now that it appears to be over, can you elaborate a little bit more on this cat-and-mouse game.

FRISBIE: Well, look, you know, I don't want to use the terminology that this is over, OK. We've apprehended the suspect. And until that time that's how we treat him, as a suspect. I've never used the terminology that this person is guilty, I'd never do that. But, obviously, we have reason to believe he's a strong suspect and we're treating him just like that, as a suspect, not as somebody who is necessarily guilty at this point.

Of course, as the day wears on, if that changes and there winds up being charges filed, what have you, we will certainly update you on that. But at this point you have to understand, I can't use that kind of terminology. Obviously this was our strongest lead and suspect in the investigation, and we're just feel very relieved that we're going to be able to move on and explore just exactly what this means to us in this investigation. So if -- we're either going to confirm one way or the another whether this person was involved.

I can tell you this, we've managed to get a lot physical evidence from the two different locations. Some of that evidence will be crucial to matching this person up with whoever it is -- with this crime.

And so there are -- there's definitely a lot of forensic work that is going to have to be done yet, and we'll see where that goes and if it ties in with this individual or if it doesn't tie in with this individual. We'll know that before long.

But, as you know, the only common denominator that there's ever been between these two locations and these two sets of victims has been this suspect. There's been no relationship between the victims themselves, as we know of. So I think we're -- I think we're doing all the right things now, I think we're going down the right road. We'll just see where it goes now.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about the struggle through the evening? You say you were -- somebody was five minutes behind...

FRISBIE: Well, all night long -- of course, as you know, we get calls that come in of people who have either seen him, or phone calls that someone who says that they know where he's at, or something of this nature, like there was one that came from the Economy Hotel and Gordon Drive in the middle of night. We pretty much confirm that he was definitely was there. When we got there the door was ajar, the TV was still on, and we felt like we were very close at that time.

There were other sightings and other people called in on other locations. And we were always just a little late, or the person had already left.

Finally, like I said, we had numerous surveillance teams throughout the community on places that we felt would be beneficial for us non-acquaintances, relationships, and things of that nature were we felt there might be a potential for this individual to show up.

Fortunately, the investigators of this department and the officers of this department, the DCI, the state of Iowa, the DCI, and we got help from several federal agencies and what have you to help us in this endeavor.

I paid off. Finally, one of the surveillance sites paid off. We were able to apprehend -- as you already know we do already have one charge out for him anyway -- so apprehended is definitely a correct statement to make. He is not voluntarily. He's definitely here against his will.

QUESTION: What kind of motives have you and your officers have been going through dealing with this, what you called the worst homicide case in this city's history. What have you been going through trying to deal with such a gruesome scene?

FRISBIE: Yes, I'll tell you, the -- I hope the general officers, or most of them that were out there, did not get an opportunity to see the inside of the crime scene. Most of them had other duties and that sort of thing.

Obviously, our evidence people our forensic people go in and process these crime scenes and a few officers certainly had to go in and had an opportunity to see these crime scenes. I feel it's a good thing for those officers who didn't is have to see it. For the officers that did have to see these crime scenes, it was a very brutal situation, and, obviously, as we do as a departmental policy, the officers that were directly involved in this and who have had exposure to this will certainly be offered some stress evaluation at a later time and the opportunity to talk to a counselor and what have you to help them through some of this because it's sort of -- it's not something that you deal with every single day and we always worry about the officers in the -- any kind of psychological this could do.

QUESTION: Do you think you have the murder weapon?

FRISBIE: We'll see. QUESTION: Chief, you said these were the most heinous crimes you have ever seen. What is that makes it so bad?

FRISBIE: Well, something that I will discuss later with you, and I will definitely probably discuss this with you before the day is over, is he -- the method of killings. And like I said before, I really can't go too far into that with you right now because we're in the interrogation process and that could certainly damage our case. And, of course, this person has some constitutional rights that we have to protect. And we -- and by protecting his constitutional rights we also protect the integrity of the case.

I mean you've been around a long time. You see how things go when the wrong kind of information or too much information comes out.

We're probably already at point right now where you might be looking at a lot of different legal matters as far as -- and I'm not saying this person's going to be charged, but let's -- for a -- hypothetically, if they were charged with all the attention this has been given, who knows where you're going to have to have trial like this. You don't know.

But I'm not looking that far down the road, I'm not thinking trial, I'm not thinking all these things. Right now I'm just thinking we have to match evidence with our potential suspect.

Who knows? I might come back in a couple of hours and tell you I've cleared this individual. Who knows? But as you can probably well imagine, I think you've followed this case all night long and we wouldn't have been looking this hard or talking this much about this one individual if we didn't feel we had some very good reasons to look in this direction, OK.

QUESTION: I'm sorry. You said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) five minutes behind him after 8:00. How long...

FRISBIE: Evidently we narrowed that gap...


QUESTION: How long had you tracked -- how long had you been at that 7th Street address? Where there any family or friends there?

FRISBIE: Like I say, this information is so new I didn't get a chance to get all the details. I got to tell you I was so overwhelmed and relieved over the fact that the apprehension was made. I didn't have any time for details because I came straight here.

The fact of the matter is that this community, as you can imagine, has been scared to death. There's -- you know, everybody's worried about their children in the schools and there's a lot of talk there about: Are they safe in the schools? Are we safe in our homes? That sort of thing always gets talked about.

Quite honestly, we were organizing and putting together a potential neighborhood canvassing that we were going through all these yards and everything this afternoon, that was one of the thing we were going to be doing. But fortunately we won't have to do that now. We were trying to mass enough people together to do that. But, as you can image, anybody who lives in the community -- certainly had a legitimate right, with us saying, hey, we have a person out there that's potentially dangerous to worry. And if this person has actually done or had anything to do with these crimes, they certainly had a lot to be worried about because they probably didn't have much to lose.

QUESTION: Can you confirm the names of the victims?

FRISBIE: Pardon?

QUESTION: Can you confirm the names of the victims.

FRISBIE: Well, I'll do that in the next -- I'll probably so that in the next release. We're still going through the forensic process.

And you folks have already released names and what have you, OK. If you want to read the "Sioux City Journal" you'll probably have a leg up, OK. But I will not confirm nor deny those names, OK. Because I can't do that. Unless I can tell you with an absolute certainty that that's who we're talking about, I can't give you the names. And that's the process we're going right through now, is to make absolute identification.

I doubt if anybody here's going to be surprised when I finally come around with the list of victims in this situation, OK.

QUESTION: What relationship did (UNINTELLIGIBLE) have between the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

FRISBIE: There was a personal relationship between the perpetrator and the -- or the person we're talking about and the mother, is my understanding. But there's a lot to be discussed there yet, and that's part of the investigation.


QUESTION: What about the other victim?

FRISBIE: I'm not at liberty to talk about that at this time.

QUESTION: Chief, do you feel like you know what the motive was?

FRISBIE: In a couple hours I may have more of handle on it, but right now we certainly have our ideas and our suspicions, and we certainly think we have some ideas. Those are probably being discussed as we speak, but it's nothing I'm at liberty to talk about at this time.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) people in the house are going to be arrested?

FRISBIE: Pardon?

QUESTION: Any chance any other people in the house...

FRISBIE: I don't know that there was anybody else. I don't know if the apprehension took place outside, inside or where. I just know the -- and I don't even know if it's a house or not, I just got an address, so -- and I came here directly.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) peacefully, was there a struggle?

FRISBIE: Didn't -- I wasn't advised that there was any kind of a struggle. And so...

QUESTION: When you say personal relationship, do you mean boyfriend/girlfriend?


QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) house the family was in?

QUESTION: Did Ron Fish own the house that the family lived in?



FRISBIE: No. No I...

QUESTION: What did you do during the wee hours of the night?

FRISBIE: I've been to both crime scenes numerous times throughout the night, and I've talked to an awful lot of you folks, OK.

QUESTION: Did you see a lot of things (OFF-MIKE) you told us about the other (OFF-MIKE) murder. Where is the emotion coming from (OFF-MIKE)

FRISBIE: What makes this one different? We're talking about five children here. And I've got to tell you that there's -- the emotion for me is that the worry that you have for a community when you feel that somebody out there that is potentially dangerous is still at large. This weighs heavily on every officer and everybody in this profession that was close to the investigation.

I can assure they were just working their hearts out because they knew this was something they had to bring to a conclusion quickly. You can't have somebody out there that's -- that might be the potential perpetrator of something like this and still roaming around in that community. There's a fear for our children and a fear for our wives, our families, our spouses.

And when you finally bring -- when you finally get to a milestone where you -- where you have your lead suspect in custody, there's certainly a -- there's a moment when there's a feeling of relief and all this frustration then starts just boiling up and coming out. And I guess it's like after running a hard race when your knees start getting weak on you and you don't -- so I apologize for my emotions, but it's just been a white-knuckle ride all night long, so I just can't even express to you how I feel right now about not having to worry about this individual out there.

Whether he was guilty or not, the potential is there, and it was really weighing heavy on our minds here.

QUESTION: Can you pinpoint time of apprehension? 11:30?

FRISBIE: Pardon?

QUESTION: Can you pinpoint time of apprehension -- 11:30?

FRISBIE: About five minutes before you saw me walk through this door, yes. So the timing was incredible. I'm glad you cooperated for this news relation.

QUESTION: What relationship is there with the person you have in custody and...

FRISBIE: Pardon?

QUESTION: What relationship is there with the person you have in custody and the male suspect? (OFF-MIKE)

FRISBIE: I'm not at liberty to discuss that at this time.

QUESTION: Can you say anything more about the condition that he was (OFF-MIKE)

FRISBIE: Don't know that.

Like I say, I got the preliminary information and came very quickly to this meeting. And you know just about what I know right now.

QUESTION: Anything you can comment of the condition that the male victim was found in?

FRISBIE: All I can tell you is that it was a very brutal murder. A very brutal murder.

QUESTION: To the point where he was unidentifiable?

FRISBIE: Well, I'm not going to say that; but it was extremely brutal, I'll tell you that much. One of the worst I've seen.


QUESTION: Do you expect autopsy results later this afternoon?

FRISBIE: I hope so. Like I said, they're in the process of doing that now. They started at 8:30 this morning. And I have to tell you, it's been going very slow, but that's not necessarily bad. Undoubtedly they're trying to do a very good job in this process. And of course, as you know, they have seven victims to process. So it's going to be a while. QUESTION: Chief, when do you expect forensic results?

FRISBIE: Pardon?

QUESTION: When do you expect forensic results?

FRISBIE: From the autopsy, I hope we have results sometime towards the evening, I hope. But I don't know. I'm going to have to keep monitoring the progress up there.

And as far as other forensic evidence and what have you goes, there's a lot of evidence that will probably be going back to Des Moines to the lab there to be processed. Some of it will be done here, some of it will be done at Des Moines at the state lab. So -- and some of this takes a while.

There's a lot of blood evidence, obviously, that will have to be done; DNA samples, things of this nature obviously will take a considerable amount of time. So we're just going to have to be patient and wait through that, and we're going to see what this interview brings. And hopefully it will be fruitful, I hope.

QUESTION: Did you go on over there...

FRISBIE: Pardon?

QUESTION: ... (OFF-MIKE) interview?

FRISBIE: No, not because you'll follow me, OK.

No, I'm not going over there right now. Right now the best thing I can do is to stay out of the way of the investigators and let them do their job. As a matter of fact, the reason you've seen me so much in the last day or so is so that the investigators don't have to deal with the media. And I've tried very hard to keep you updated and give you as much information as possible so that they were able to do their job.

So that's what I'm trying to do now. And I'm going to stay out of their way and let them do their job. We have some very competent investigators. We also have some state agents and other people involved in this that are extremely good at this -- at investigations. And I'm sure that if there's anything here, we'll certainly know about it before too long.

OK, any other questions?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) any injuries?

FRISBIE: Pardon?


FRISBIE: I have no idea at all. Like I say, my information was very sketchy and preliminary. By 2:00 I'll certainly be able to discuss that with you at that time. And I'll make sure that I know that kind of information when I come back to you, OK.

So anyway, so for right now I'd like to conclude this. I'll hold another press conference at 2:00, and we'll go from there, OK?

QUESTION: Can you say and spell your name for those of us who just met you?

FRISBIE: Oh, sure. First name is Joe; I don't think I have to spell that for you. But Frisbie: F-R-I-S-B-I-E. OK? All right?

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

ALLEN: All right, Police Chief Joe Frisbie from Sioux City, Iowa expressing profound relief that the suspect they had sought in these brutal homicides in Sioux City has been arrested today at a location that police had surveillance on. He wouldn't give any more specifics about that.

But he did say the community of Sioux City has been "scared to death," to use the police chief's words. The person they have in custody is Adam Matthew Moss, who is 23 years old. We have a picture of him -- that's it right there. He was considered to be on the run on foot, and considered armed and dangerous. But again, he is in custody.

As far as the murders go, police found a mother and five children dead in their home -- this after a baby-sitter had walked in and had found a horrific crime scene. The police chief saying there the most horrible he has ever seen in his career. And they believe that the mother and the five children had been dead for several days.

At about the same time that those bodies were discovered, a man across town was also discovered dead. Police say the suspect knew both of these families and that he may have been the boyfriend of the mother who was killed.

The suspect, Adam Moss, is known to police. Just nine days ago he was charged with domestic violence. An order of protection was placed against Moss on the day of that assault. He never showed up for hearing, obviously, this week on that one.

So again, the suspect in these brutal slayings in police custody now. Seven people found dead in Sioux City, Iowa.

Here is the very top portion of that news conference, when the police chief announced the apprehension.


FRISBIE: I would like to tell you that we have the suspect in custody. And it happened within just the last few minutes. And, as you can probably tell, I'm pretty emotional. I'm pretty overwhelmed by this information.

We were -- we had, obviously, a very dangerous situation that's existed in this community over the last -- more than 12 hours. We've been playing cat-and-mouse games all night with this individual. We had surveillance teams out all over the community, as you can probably understand. This finally paid off for us.

We did, just moments ago, apprehend this individual. He is presently in custody and is being interrogated in reference to any potential involvement in this case at this time.


ALLEN: And, again, the suspect in custody, Adam Matthew Moss, who is 23 years old. Seven people, again, found dead in Sioux City, Iowa. No motive has been given for these crimes.



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