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Kathleen DORSETT





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Custody battle - Convinced her own father to murder her ex-husband
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 16, 2010
Date of arrest: 7 days after
Date of birth: 1974
Victim profile: Stephen Moore, 42 (her ex-husband)
Method of murder: Strangulation with a rope
Location: Ocean Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to 58 years in prison on August 8, 2013
photo gallery

Kathleen Dorsett, Parents Sentenced For Murder Of Her Ex-husband

By David Porter -

August 8, 2013

FREEHOLD, N.J. — A former elementary school teacher and mother is a manipulative narcissist who convinced her own father to murder her ex-husband, a judge said Thursday in sentencing the New Jersey woman and both her parents to prison in what he called "an American family tragedy."

In a proceeding replete with gruesome pictures of Stephen Moore's body and sometimes rambling statements from the three defendants, Kathleen Dorsett and her parents were sentenced to a combined 110 years in prison for Moore's 2010 death.

She and parents Thomas and Lesley Dorsett had previously pleaded guilty to charges in Moore's death, and she and her mother also entered guilty pleas to conspiring to murder Moore's mother to keep her from testifying against them and to stop her from gaining custody of Kathleen Dorsett's daughter.

The plot grew out of the couple's failed marriage and an acrimonious divorce that led to a custody battle over their 20-month-old daughter Elizabeth, prosecutors say.

When Stephen Moore returned their daughter to her mother's house Aug. 16, 2010, authorities say, Kathleen Dorsett lured him to the back of the residence where her father leaped from behind bushes and smashed his head with a heavy metal object. He then choked Moore with a rope before dumping his body in the trunk of Moore's mother's car, prosecutors say.

Kathleen Dorsett was sentenced to a total of 58 years for convictions on charges of murder, disturbing human remains and attempted murder. Lesley Dorsett received a seven-year sentence for a conspiracy conviction; authorities say she paid $1,000 to a police informant to kill Evlyn Moore.

Thomas Dorsett was sentenced to 45 years, including 15 years for his arson-for-hire conviction. Prosecutors say Dorsett paid a man to burn Evlyn Moore's car with her dead son in the trunk but ended up doing it himself.

Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Marc LeMieux displayed pictures of Moore's charred body inside the car's trunk that drew gasps from the packed gallery. He also read a statement from Evlyn Moore in which she called the Dorsetts "cold-blooded killers" to whom she "has nothing to say." She wrote that Elizabeth, now 4, is a happy child but will never know her father and mother.

"How does she tell her friends? When she falls in love, how does she tell her future partner?" Moore wrote.

Outside court, she said she was pleased with the sentences, saying, "It couldn't have gone any better."

During the proceeding, Kathleen Dorsett directed a brief statement to state Superior Court Judge Anthony Mellaci Jr. and to the cameras in the courtroom.

"I'm so deeply sorry for all the pain I've caused to Stephen's family and all the lives I've destroyed," she said.

Though she denied the plot was over custody, Mellaci said "that's exactly what this was over – control."

"This is a narcissistic individual. Her crocodile tears get turned on and off seemingly at will," the judge said. "This is really an American family tragedy on so many levels, and the responsibility for it falls mainly on this defendant's feet."

Thomas Dorsett, who ran a refrigeration business, gave a nearly 30-minute statement in which his voice cracked frequently.

"I don't have the words to say how sorry I am," he said. "Maybe that's not even the right word. I know I lost my mind that day, and now I've lost my Elizabeth."

LeMieux poked holes in Dorsett's description of himself as a kind and caring man, pointing out that investigators interviewed co-workers and friends who said he referred to Moore as "the monkey" and vowed to kill him.


Dorsett family members sentenced in Ocean Township murder

By Ashley Peskoe/

August 08, 2013

A woman and her father who conspired to brutally murder her ex-husband during a custody battle over a 1-year-old child was sentenced in Monmouth County Superior Court on Thursday.

Kathleen Dorsett, 38, and her father, Thomas Dorsett, 66, admitted to killing Stephen Moore in the backyard of her Ocean Township house on Aug. 16, 2010 and then loaded the body in a car and set it ablaze in Long Branch. While in jail, Kathleen Dorsett and her mother, Lesley Dorsett, 68, planned a murder for hire plot to kill Stephen Moore’s mother, Evelyn Moore.

As part of a plea agreement, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci, Jr. sentenced Kathleen Dorsett to 30 years in prison on a murder charge, 20 years in prison on an attempted murder charge and eight years in prison on a conspiracy to disturb human remains charge, all to run consecutively. Thomas Dorsett was sentenced to 30 years in prison on a murder charge and 15 years on the arson for hire charge, to run consecutively.

Lesley Dorsett was also sentenced to seven years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder, a year less than the plea deal due to her age and heath, Mellaci said.

Thomas Dorsett cried while addressing the court, occasionally wiping tears away with a piece of paper. While being sentenced he looked at the judge with his hands crossed. Lesley Dorsett was sentenced next in a separate proceeding, and cried as she addressed Evelyn Moore. Kathleen Dorsett was sentenced last in a third proceeding, crying while addressing the court, but otherwise looked at the judge or around the courtroom during the proceedings.

During the sentencing proceedings, Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office Director of Investigations Marc Lemieux recounted how the murder of Stephen Moore happened, as well as the murder for hire plot of his mother, Evelyn Moore.

On Aug. 16, 2010, Kathleen Dorsett’s ex-husband Stephen Moore dropped off their 1-year-old daughter Elizabeth at her Ocean Township home, Lemieux said, and sent him to the back of the house to pick up tools. She knew her father was waiting for him.

Lemieux said Moore walked “the last 68 feet of his life” before Thomas Dorsett hit him between the eyes and over the head with a metal crowbar-type object and then strangled him with a rope, Lemieux said.

As Kathleen Dorsett heard the screams, she assured a neighbor nothing wrong and blocked the neighbors view with her body and told her to shut the window, Lemieux said.

The father-daughter duo then loaded Moore’s dead body into the truck of a car, which was set on fire in Long Branch, Lemieux said.

Lemieux also showed surveillance video in court of Thomas Dorsett disposing of items he and Kathleen Dorsett used to clean up after the murder.

Kathleen Dorsett pleaded guilty to murder on May 9, conspiracy to desecrate human remains and attempted murder. Thomas Dorsett also pleaded guilty to murder and arson for hire.

Lesley Dorsett and her daughter also tried to hire a hit man to kill Moore’s mother, Evelyn Moore. Kathleen Dorsett told her mother to bring $1,000 down payment to a man she believed was the cousin of a women she met in jail, who was actually an undercover police officer.

Lesley Dorsett previously pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to commit murder.

During Kathleen Dorsett’s sentencing, the judge called the case an “American family tragedy” and said the murder was about control and manipulation over her daughter. Mellaci also said a presentence interview showed signs of a “narcissistic individual.”

“[Kathleen Dorsett] states that she’s sorry and she never meant for any of this to happen. I don’t believe that,” Mellaci said during the sentencing. “It’s not been less than two or three times I have seen her in my courtroom, including today, where the crocodile tears get turned on and off almost on cue. As Mr. Lemieux was speaking and saying certain things you’re looking at me shaking your head mouthing ‘that’s not true’ as if trying to manipulate this court.”

Mellaci also said Kathleeen Dorsett is the cause of the murder.

“Mr. Dorsett may have swung the murder weapon, but through her manipulation, Kathleen put the idea and the weapon in his hands,” Mellaci said.

Outside the courtroom, Evelyn Moore praised the prosecutor’s office.

“Knowing this amazing team from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office has gotten me through,” Moore said. “I love them all, I don’t know what I would have done with out them, I will never forget them.”

The Dorsett’s now 4-year-old child is in Moore’s custody.


Ocean Township woman, parents admit roles in ex's slaying

By MaryAnn Spoto/The Star-Ledger

May 09, 2013

As her father was making good on their plan to kill her ex-husband that August afternoon, Kathleen Dorsett could hear the man’s screams coming from the backyard of the Ocean Township house.

She immediately ran outside and used her body to block the view of a neighbor who was asking what was happening. Dorsett assured the woman everything was fine and told her to close her window.

With her ex-husband lying dead in the yard, Dorsett then helped her father put the body in the trunk of a car that would later be set ablaze several miles away.

The bizarre murder plot was spelled out in graphic detail in Superior Court in Freehold today, where Dorsett and her parents, fueled by hatred for a man they considered an unfit father, admitted killing Stephen Moore on Aug. 16, 2010, and plotting a hit on his mother. Moore’s body was found two days after he was killed — in the trunk of his mother’s burning 2001 Nissan Altima in Long Branch.

Dorsett and her parents, Thomas and Lesley, are now facing long prison terms.

"The absolute intention behind this plea was to make sure that both Kathleen and Thomas would no longer be on the street," Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Marc LeMieux said. "We feel that we’ve accomplished that."

Facing 50 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 8, Thomas Dorsett pleaded guilty to murder and arson for hire. Kathleen Dorsett, 38, pleaded guilty to murder, conspiracy to disturb human remains and attempted murder and faces 58 years in prison. Lesley Dorsett, 68, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, faces eight years in prison.

Discussing anger toward the 42-year-old Moore that grew over time, Thomas Dorsett told Superior Court Judge Anthony Mellaci Jr. that he tried to have drugs planted on his former son-in-law. When that failed, he said, he began plotting with his daughter to kill Moore.

he scheme later grew to include Lesley Dorsett, who said today she agreed with her daughter’s jailhouse plans to deliver cash and a photograph of Moore’s mother, Evlyn, to a hitman when it appeared she could help put Kathleen behind bars for a long time.

Sitting in the front row, Evyln Moore listened intently to today’s proceedings.

In separate proceedings, the Dorsetts were led, shackled, into the courtroom. They sat in the jury box and kept their backs to the crowded gallery, even refusing to turn around when the prosecutor asked them questions.

Kathleen and her father said they agreed he would kill Moore when he arrived at her house to drop off their 20-month-old daughter. Luring him into their trap, Kathleen Dorsett said she told Moore she wanted him to retrieve some tools from the basement. But to get to the basement from the house, Moore had to go into the backyard, where Thomas Dorsett was waiting.

Thomas Dorsett said he instigated an argument with Moore and as the two fought, he picked up a metal cable and hit Moore, who fell backward and struck his head, Dorsett said.

"It was your purpose and your intention to kill him, correct?" his lawyer, Steven Nelson, asked.

"Yes," Thomas Dorsett replied in a low voice.

Kathleen Dorsett, a third-grade teacher, said she knew her father was in the backyard laying in wait for Moore.

"I took my daughter into my house, knowing all the time that my father was back there waiting to kill him," she said.

After Moore was killed, she said, she helped helped her father put the body into the trunk of Evlyn Moore’s car before Thomas Dorsett drove it to Long Branch. Thomas Dorsett said he paid an acquaintance, Anthony Morris, $3,000 to set the car on fire.

As head of an intensely close family, Thomas Dorsett called his granddaughter "my life." He said Kathleen often complained her husband wasn’t a good father and that she thought he was incapable of taking care of their daughter.

Married in 2007, Kathleen and Stephen separated two years later when he moved in with his ailing mother in Manchester.

During their divorce, the couple fought about the baby’s care, custody and parenting time. Moore wasn’t permitted overnight visits with his daughter initially, but was granted visits as part of the June 2010 divorce. The girl is living with Evlyn Moore.

When Thomas and Lesley Dorsett wanted to move to Florida with Kathleen and their granddaughter in 2010, part of Moore’s divorce agreement required Thomas Dorsett to help Moore move there as well and provide him financial assistance for six months.

Thomas Dorsett acknowledged that angered him.

"In fact, you wanted him out of your life and your family’s life, correct?" his attorney asked.

"Yes," Dorsett replied.

Kathleen Dorsett admitted she enlisted the help of her mother to hire a hitman to kill Evyln Moore, while making it appear as if she died from a diabetes-related incident. The hitman turned out to be an undercover investigator.

The day his daughter was arrested, Thomas Dorsett, who owned an air conditioning and refrigeration business, tried to commit suicide in the parking lot of his lawyer’s office.

"The prosecutor’s office has been unbelievable in their prosecution and in support of me and my family," Evlyn Moore said after court. "I feel that Stephen has gotten justice today."


Manchester man was beaten to death before being burned in car, reports say

By MaryAnn Spoto/The Star-Ledger

August 26, 2010

An Ocean Township man accused in the death of his former son-in-law paid a man from Long Branch $3,000 to torch the car in which the victim’s body was found, according to court papers released today.

Meanwhile, Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin said the victim, Stephen Moore, 42, of Manchester, whose body was found in the truck of his mother’s burning car, was beaten to death.

As new details emerged about Moore’s slaying, the man accused of setting the car ablaze appeared in court in Freehold, where a Superior Court judge maintained his bail at $500,000.

Anthony Morris, 31, of Long Branch, knew Moore’s body was in the trunk of the beige 2001 Nissan Altima when he torched it in Long Branch in the early morning hours of Aug. 18, Valentin said.

Moore’s ex father-in-law, 64-year-old Thomas Dorsett, is accused of paying Morris $3,000 to set the fire, according to court records.

Moore, a salesman for an Eatontown car dealership, disappeared after dropping off his 20-month-old daughter at his ex-wife’s house on Lockwood Place in Ocean Township at around 7 a.m. on Aug. 16.

Colleagues alerted police when Moore did not show up for work that morning. His body was found two days later, after firefighters extinguished the car fire at Long Branch and Seaview avenues in Long Branch.

"Mr. Moore suffered a particularly violent death, which included massive head injury which led to his death," Valentin said today.

The prosecutor declined to say whether a weapon was used but said Moore was killed on Aug. 16. He would not say where the killing occurred or how the fire was set. He also would not say who killed Moore, but noted the victim’s ex-wife, Kathleen Dorsett, and her father are charged with murder. Morris is not charged with murder.

Divorce records and other court papers show Moore and his ex-wife had a contentious relationship, particularly about the rearing of their daughter. Moore was seeking more visitation time with the toddler but Dorsett, 36, complained in court papers that he did not take proper care of her.

Valentin said that animosity played a role in the killing.

"It certainly looks like the divorce and the relationship between Mr. Moore and his ex-wife as well as strained relationships involving the couple as well as the father-in-law certainly contributed to that," he said.

Morris, who worked for a company that has connections to Thomas Dorsett’s refrigeration service and repair business, was friends with Thomas Dorsett, Valentin said.

Authorities are looking for information from anyone who may have seen the Altima between Aug. 16 and Aug. 18 or who may have seen or had conversations with any of the suspects leading up to Moore’s death and the suspects’ arrests.

Valentin said investigators are trying to determine where the Altima had been during those two days before it turned up ablaze at Long Branch and Seaview avenues in Long Branch. He said it was possible someone could have been driving the car for two days with the body in the trunk.

Morris, who is being held in the Monmouth County jail in Freehold, was charged with arson for hire, tampering with physical evidence, desecrating human remains, hindering apprehension and conspiracy to commit arson and/or desecration of human remains.

Dorsett, who lives across the street from his daughter, was charged Tuesday with one count of murder, two counts of tampering with physical evidence and one count of tampering with a witness. On Wednesday, the prosecutor’s office filed two additional charges against him: arson for hire and conspiracy to commit arson.

Thomas Dorsett was hospitalized hours before he was charged on Tuesday and he remains under watch of Monmouth County sheriff’s officers until his release, at which time he will be sent to the Monmouth County jail.


Ex-wife is charged in slaying of Manchester man found in burning car

By MaryAnn Spoto/The Star-Ledger

August 23, 2010

The ex-wife of a Manchester man whose body was found in the trunk of his mother’s burning car in Long Branch last week was arrested today and charged in his death, authorities said.

Kathleen Dorsett, 36, of Ocean Township, was charged with one count of murder and one count of tampering with physical evidence in the death of Stephen Moore, Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin said.

Moore’s body was found Aug. 18 in the trunk of a burning 2001 Nissan Altima after firefighters extinguished the blaze at Seaview and Long Branch avenues around 4 a.m. Valentin said the car, with Moore in the trunk, had been taken to that location and set ablaze.

Valentin said the couple had a custody agreement that required Moore, 42, to drop their 20-month-old daughter off at Dorsett’s home. He said Moore had not been seen or heard from since he dropped the child off on Aug. 16.

Valentin said Dorsett and Moore were married in 2007 and divorced in June.

Valentin declined to say how Moore died. He was identified through a comparison of dental records, the prosecutor said.

Moore, who worked for a Monmouth County auto dealer, was reported missing to the Manchester Police Department on Aug. 16 after he failed to show up for work that morning, Valentin said.

Bail for Dorsett, who is being held in the Monmouth County jail in Freehold, has been set at $1.5 million, the prosecutor said.

He said others were involved in the killing.

"We are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying all of the individuals who played a role in Mr. Moore’s untimely death and the disposal of his body," Valentin said. "Police are actively pursuing numerous leads regarding the circumstances surrounding the victim’s death as well as how his body came to be in the trunk of his mother’s burning automobile."

Dorsett was arrested early today near her home on Lockwood Place, Valentin said.


Authorities identify man found in trunk of burning car in Long Branch

By MaryAnn Spoto/The Star-Ledger

August 20, 2010

A man found in the trunk of a burning car in Long Branch was identified today as an Ocean County resident.

Monmouth County investigators have labeled the death of Stephen Moore, 42, of Sheffield Drive in Manchester, as a homicide and are asking for help from the public in solving the case.

After firefighters extinguished the blaze, emergency personnel found Moore’s body in the trunk of his beige 2001 Nissan Altima at Seaview and Long Branch avenues 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin said investigators are looking for information on Moore’s last known whereabouts.

"We are asking for the public’s assistance in providing information regarding this incident and certainly anyone who may have seen Mr. Moore in the hours and days leading up to the incident," he said.



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