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Adam Matthew MOSS





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Revenge - Robbery
Number of victims: 7
Date of murders: August 30, 2001
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: September 5, 1977
Victims profile: His girlfriend, Leticia Aguilar, 31; her five children, ages 6 to 12, and businessman Ronald Earl Fish, 58
Method of murder: Hitting with a hammer - Stabbing with knife
Location: Sioux City, Iowa, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to seven consecutive terms of life in prison without parole on September 25, 2001. Committed suicide by hanging himself in his prison cell on June 26, 2013

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Adam Moss Suicide: Mass Murderer Kills Self In Iowa Prison

June 27, 2013

FORT MADISON, Iowa -- An Iowa man serving several life sentences in the 2001 slayings of his girlfriend, her five children and a former employer committed suicide in his prison cell, corrections officials announced Thursday.

Adam Moss, 35, was found unresponsive and hanging with a bed sheet around his neck tied to a wall vent in his cell Wednesday afternoon at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, according to the Iowa Department of Corrections. He had been confined to a mental health unit.

Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta said medical personnel immediately detached the bed sheet and determined Moss was dead, The Des Moines Register reported.

The Lee County Medical Examiner said the cause of death was asphyxia due to suffocation. Scaletta said the death is under investigation.

Moss pleaded guilty in Sioux City in October 2001 to seven counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of his girlfriend, Leticia Aguilar, 31, her five children, and businessman Ron Fish, 58, who he had worked for at some point. The children were between the ages of 6 and 12.

Police said Moss beat all seven to death with a hammer and slit Aguilar's throat. Police captured Moss a day after the bodies were discovered.

Moss was later sentenced to seven consecutive life terms with no chance of parole.

Iowa does not have the death penalty, and the newspaper reported that the killings renewed debate on whether to bring it back.


Six found murdered in Sioux City

08:00CDT - 31 August 2001

SIOUX CITY, IOWA (EmergencyNet News) - Police said that a woman and her five children were found murdered in their home on Thursday. The bodies were found by a baby-sitter at about 18:00CDT. The deceased children ranged in age from 5  to 12. A man's body was found in another part of Sioux City at about the same time, but it was unclear whether his death was related to  the others. Authorities believe the bodies found at the home had been there for several days.

According to CNN, a warrant was issued early this morning (Friday) by the Woodbury County Attorney's Office for Adam Matthew Moss, 23, charging him with theft in the first degree. Police said he is wanted for questioning in regard to the homicides. "Mr. Moss definitely knew the victims from both houses, so that's the connection," said Police Chief Joseph Frisbie at a news conference early Friday morning. Police said that Mr. Moss "should be considered armed and dangerous," and asked that citizens not take action on their own...instead, if they see the suspect, they are asked to call local law enforcement immediately.


Suspect Reportedly Captured

12:00CDT - 31 August 2001

SIOUX CITY, IOWA (EmergencyNet News) -- According to Sioux City Police Chief Joseph Frisbie, suspect Adam Matthew Moss has been taken into custody at this hour. The apprehension reportedly occurred at 713 E. 7th street in Sioux City, and the suspect is now in custody and being questioned.  Few other official details were immediately available.


Adam Moss (7)

On August 31, 2001, the day after mass murderer Nikolay Soltys was captured in Sacramento, another man, 23-year-old Adam Matthew Moss, was arrested in Sioux City, Iowa, for the murders of two adults and five children. The suspect, 23-year-old Adam Matthew Moss, is believed to have been the boyfriend of Leiticia Aguilar, the 31-year-old female victim and mother of the five murdered children.

The other adult victim, 58-year-old Ronald Earl Fish, was found dead in the entryway of his home on the north side of town. Authorities believe Moss, who had worked in Fish's tire company, murdered him to steal his car. The bodies of Aguilar and her children were discovered by a babysitter who came looking for them after they did not show up at her house after school. Apparently the family had been dead for several days.

According to authorities, this murder rampage is the worst crime committed in Sioux City history. Once the bodies of Aguilar, her children and Fish were found, police identified Moss -- who had been living with Aguilar -- as their primary suspect. After an frantic, all-night search for Moss throughout the city, police found him hiding behind a pile of plywood outside a shack they had been watching.

Neighbors said Moss could be friendly and helpful but had a history of violence. His own brother filed a restraining order against him last week; court officials would not explain the cause. Fred Scaletta, spokesman for the Iowa Corrections Department, said Moss was sentenced to a year of probation in 1995 for assault. The next year, he was placed on two years' probation for burglary and theft. Moss and Aguilar had worked at Smurfit-Stone Container Co., which makes cardboard and paper products.


Man Is Arrested in the Killings of 5 Children and 2 Adults in Iowa

The New York Times

Saturday, September 1, 2001

A woman, her five children and an acquaintance were killed here and the 23-year-old boyfriend of the woman was arrested today on suspicion of murder, the police said. The Sioux City police chief, Joe Frisbie, called the crime, which was discovered on Thursday, the worst mass murder in this city's history.

The boyfriend, Adam Matthew Moss, was captured without a struggle as he hid behind a pile of plywood, after an all-night search by the authorities, Chief Frisbie said.

The chief offered no motive for the slayings.

Neighbors of the family said that Mr. Moss could be friendly and helpful but that he had a history of violence. His own brother filed a restraining order against him last week.

The body of Leticia Aguilar, 31, was found at her home by a baby sitter on Thursday night, along with those of her children, ages 6 to 12.

The bodies appeared to have been there for a few days, the authorities said. The police said they had recovered a weapon, but did not elaborate.

The baby sitter, Donna Stabile, said she went to the house when the children -- Claudia, 12; Zach, 11; Larry, 9; Lisa, 7; and Michael, 6 -- did not show up at her home after school. She said that she had a key to Ms. Aguilar's house and that she used it to enter.

''The first thing I noticed was that their 32-inch TV was missing,'' Ms. Stabile said. Then she went upstairs and saw the bodies.

The seventh victim was Ronald Fish, 58, the owner of a tire store and service station whose body was found at his home.

The slayings shocked many in this Missouri River city of 84,000. The police said the last multiple killing in Sioux City was a triple homicide 26 years ago.

The police said Mr. Moss and Ms. Aguilar both worked at the Smurfit-Stone Container Company, which makes cardboard and other paper products. The company said Mr. Moss had quit recently.

Fred Scaletta, spokesman for the Iowa Corrections Department, said Mr. Moss received a year of probation in 1995 for assault with injury.

The next year, he was placed on two years of probation for burglary and theft.

Just last week, Mr. Moss's younger brother, Jason Moss, obtained a restraining order against him for assault, said Charlene Peterson, a trial court supervisor. She would not provide details.

School counselors were called in to comfort schoolchildren after learning five of their classmates were dead. Three of the children were in elementary school, the others in middle school.

''They were truly wonderful kids,'' the Everett Elementary principal, Michaela Hansen, said. ''They were really outgoing and friendly. People liked them. My heart just goes out to that family.''


Bail Set At $7M In Iowa Mass Murder

Life In Prison Could Loom If Adam Moss Is Convicted

CBS News

Sept. 1, 2001

Bail was set at $7 million Saturday for a man accused of killing seven people, including his girlfriend and her five children, who were bludgeoned to death in their sleep with a hammer.

Adam Matthew Moss, 23, stared at the floor or his hands as he appeared before Woodbury County District Judge Frank B. Nelson.

Seven first-degree murder accusations were detailed in complaints filed by county prosecutors, who said formal charges would be filed this coming week. If convicted of a single first-degree murder charge, Moss would face life in prison; Iowa does not have the death penalty.

No motive was given for the killings.

Moss showed no reaction in court and never raised his eyes.

The judge said Moss is accused of going into the home of his girlfriend, Leticia Aguilar, late Monday or early Tuesday, while she and her children were sleeping.

He is accused of beating each of the children to death with a hammer while they slept, then going to Aguilar's room, cutting her throat and beating her in the face with a hammer, Nelson said.

The bodies of Aguilar, 31, and Claudia, 12; Zach, 11; Larry, 9; Lisa, 7; and Michael, 6, were found Thursday evening by a baby sitter who dropped by to see why the children had failed to show up at her home after school.

About the same time, the body of Ronald E. Fish, 58, owner of a tire store and service station, was found at his home some two miles away. Moss also is accused of stealing Fish's car.

Fish was attacked with a hammer and a knife late Wednesday or early Thursday, authorities said.

Moss himself is the only link between the two sets of victims, reports CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers: the boyfriend of the children's mother, and a friend of Fish.

Following an all-night search, Moss was arrested Friday. He was found hiding behind a pile of plywood outside a shack that police had been watching, Police Chief Joe Frisbie said.

"This community was scared to death," Frisbie said. "Everyone was worried about their children and the schools and wondering if they were safe in their homes."

The judge said a public defender would be appointed for Moss.

He was being held Saturday under suicide watch in the Woodbury County jail, where he was isolated for his own safety, Sheriff Dave Amick said.

Perri Harper, a neighbor of Aguilar's, said there had been an argument at the house Tuesday night.

Moss had been living with Aguilar for a couple of months, said neighbor Myrtle Cress. The two had both worked at Smurfit-Stone Container Co., which makes cardboard and paper products.

Michael, Lisa and Larry were in the first, second and fourth grades at Everett Elementary School, principal Michaela Hansen said. On Friday, counselors spoke with children at that school and at West Middle School, which Claudia and Zach attended.

"They were truly wonderful kids," Hansen said. "My heart just goes out to that family. Words cannot express how badly I feel."

Williams said the traedy was especially hard for the children's classmates to understand because of the number slain.

"There is always trauma for kids when a favorite teacher is lost due to sudden death," he said. "There's trauma when a parent or close friends are lost. Here we have classmates - and a large number of them - who are dead."

Neighbors said Moss could be friendly and helpful but had a history of violence. His own brother had filed a restraining order against him last week claiming Moss had threatened him and his fiance. His mother said a former girlfriend, with whom he had a 4-year-old daughter, also had a restraining order against him.

Fred Scaletta, spokesman for the Iowa Corrections Department, said Moss was sentenced to a year of probation in 1995 for assault. The next year, he was placed on two years' probation for burglary and theft.


Adam Matthew Moss

September 10, 2001

Sioux City killer Adam Moss was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder. Moss, 24, was charged with killing his grilfriend, Leticia Aguilar, her five children, and Ronald Fish, a man who lived across town from the other victims.

Authorities said all seven were bludgeoned with a hammer and that Fish and Aguilar also had knife wounds.

Authorities say Moss beat the children to death while they slept on August 30, then went to Aguilar's room, cut her throat and beat her in the face.


Sioux City Murder Suspect Pleads Guilty

Man Sentenced For Killing Seven People

September 25, 2001

The man accused of killing seven people in Sioux City, including five children, pleaded guilty Tuesday to all seven counts.

Adam Moss, 23, was scheduled to go on trial in November.

He was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Leticia Aguilar, her five children and businessman Ronald Fish. They were all found in late August in their Sioux City homes.

Moss was accused of beating the children to death with a hammer as they slept and then cutting Aguilar's throat with a knife before striking her in the face with a hammer. Authorities said that Fish was also attacked with a knife and hammer.

Moss went against the advice of his attorney by entering the guilty plea. His plea means that families and neighbors will not have to relive the ordeal in a trial.

The judge in the case accepted Moss' plea and sentenced him to seven consecutive terms of life in prison without parole. Iowa does not have a death sentence.

Woodbury County Attorney Tom Mullen said that he doubts whether investigators will ever know the motive.

Public Defender Mike Williams said that he had some reservations about Moss' plea, but that Moss seemed to be, "quite firm in his opinion."


While they were Sleeping

By Amy H Peterson   

Monday, March 25, 2002

In my hometown, a man bludgeoned his girlfriend, her five children and another man. All we can do is wonder why.

Leticia Aguilar came from Mexico as a teenager to Fresno, California with er family. Eight years ago, as a 23 year old already the mother of three toddlers, she came here with her husband to seek work in Sioux City's growing Hispanic community. She gave birth to a second daughter, then a third son. She divorced, remarried briefly and divorced again, and began working overtime at a box factory.

She found a neighborhood sitter who fell in love with her five children and took them with her to relatives' homes and to church. Donna is in her fifties, matriarch of a working class Italian family whose members never leave the 'hood.

A few months ago, for reasons unknown to anyone, 31 year old Leticia started dating Adam Matthew Moss, a 23 year old ex-con and high school dropout who had done time for criminal mischief and grand theft auto, and whose criminal record stretched back to elementary school.

Leticia was a tiny beauty with black hair and pale skin, golden brown eyes that were usually heavily made up, and full, burgundy lips.

Adam is tanned and blonde, and with a lanky, 5'7" frame looks even younger than his 23 years.

He worked at the box factory, too, until he quit about three weeks ago.

Leticia's five children from her two marriages were good students and very well liked among teachers and classmates. Nine year old Larry was a cub scout, looking forward to overnight camps and other privileges of moving to the Webelos level. Twelve year old Claudia, the oldest, had repeated second grade, putting her in the same class as eleven year old Zach, but now a middle schooler was on the honor roll. Six year old Michael, the youngest, got the teacher he wanted for first grade and loved taking the bus each day with Larry and seven-year-old Lisa.

Monday night there was an argument at Leticia's narrow, two story frame house. A few neighbors saw Adam bolt through the door, slamming it behind him. A flush of anger colored his tanned face, and his long feet in high top sneakers stomped along the sidewalk as he jumped into his car.

Monday night around 8:00 Adam was angry and he was leaving, either forever or just to get a few drinks and come back when he was settled down. It really mattered not to the neighbors, who wondered what Leticia was doing with him anyway.

It wasn't until around 3:00 a.m. that Adam came back. He strode silently into the house; he had a hammer and a knife. He was quiet now, deliberate.

He walked upstairs, almost tripping over Zach and Larry, who had camped out on the landing in sleeping bags. Their flashlights were still on inside their sleeping bags and X Men comics were strewn all over the staircase. Adam stepped over the sleeping boys and walked into the girls' room.

Claudia and Lisa slept on small twin beds with matching, worn, lavendar blankets. Adam walked over to Claudia's bed and threw back the covers. After bringing the hammer down twice on her temple, he swung back to crush her sternum with a third blow. As blood started to stain Claudia's Enrique Iglesias tee shirt, Adam moved over to Lisa. It was darker on her side of the room; she was harder to see. He grabbed her by the back of the neck and brought the hammer down in the center of her forehead, so quickly she didn't even wake up.

He moved to the landing and killed Larry with one swift blow. With Zach, Adam found it necessary to bring his hammer down over twenty times on his head, neck, and chest, and then bludgeon his face until both cheekbones were crushed. Was Zach the nemesis at home? Did Zach come between Adam and Leticia? Was he the little man of the house, trying to protect his mother?

Adam moved on to six year old Michael's room. Adam, the noncustodial father of a four year old, didn't harm Michael's face at all but pounded at his tiny chest with the hammer until his breathing stopped.

Finally, Adam moved on to the bedroom he shared with Leticia. Leticia was awake when she died; when she was found two days later, her eyes were open. After he fractured her skull with the hammer, Adam brought it down seven times on the side of her face, then, after she was dead, cut her throat with the knife.

By now it was almost 4 a.m. and the early shift workers in the neighborhood would be getting up. Adam had to disappear into the dark night. Before he did, he put a sign on the door of the house saying the family was on vacation, in order to keep friends and truant officers at bay. Then, on foot and still carrying the bloody weapons, Adam walked away.

He hid out for a full day as the bodies of his victims remained undiscovered. Then, two evenings later, he went to see Ron, a 58 year old tire store owner. No one knows exactly how or why Adam and Ron knew each other, though some rumors have floated around, but some seem certain they've known each other since 1995.

Whatever their relationship, Adam went to Ron's house on one of the most affluent streets in Sioux City. Ron's house is on a large property surrounded by trees and other foliage. Neighbors said they hardly saw him; he was at the store afternoons and evenings, returning late at night after working out at a health club that stays open until 11 or 12:00.

He also bludgeoned Ron with the hammer and after he collapsed, stabbed him multiple times with the knife.

Adam left while it was still light out in Ron's car. Some neighbors were just arriving home from work. No one saw anything unusual, so Ron wasn't discovered in the entry way of his house until 6:00 the next evening when a coworker went to check on him, concerned that he hadn't been to work.

At the same time, Donna, the children's sitter, was worried when she hadn't heard from Leticia or the children. She used her key to the back door of the house and went in. Calling out their names, she slowly started up the stairs.


I have been troubled by this event in my city since I first heard of it on Thursday. Adam has been caught and arraigned on seven counts of first-degree murder, which in Iowa carries a maximum life sentence without parole for each one they prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Larry was one of the Webelos boy scouts in my son's group, though he didn't go to the same school or live in our neighborhood. He was one of the more intelligent boys in the group and always considerate to adults.

Leticia was someone I had met in my work covering Hispanic work and culture in Sioux City. I have no idea why she let this loser move in with her.

Ron was the father of one of my high school classmates and father-in-law of another. From all I know a standup guy in spite of any interesting habits or hangups.

I thank you for indulging my need to create something from this, to get out what I've been feeling. Most of the details here were derived from the complaint that was read at Adam's arraignment. I don't know what will happen. I can't imagine he'd get a fair trial around here, but with CNN, the BBC, and national news coverage of this case, it may be impossible everywhere.


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