Digging Deeper: Community holds out hope 1978 cold case will be solved

Bruce and Margaret Moser
Bruce and Margaret Moser(WPTA)
Updated: Sep. 27, 2021 at 3:00 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Decades ago, a young couple was murdered in their trailer. Years went by and the case grew cold, but even after all this time, investigators believe it could be solved.

Bruce and Margaret Moser were just starting their life together, raising a toddler on the outskirts of Blackford County, that is until they were brutally murdered inside their own home. Police say someone sexually assaulted Margaret before shooting her and her husband.

It still haunts two deputies to this day. Pat Crewdson and Roger Reneau were the first to arrive on scene. Reneau was chief deputy with the Blackford County Sheriff’s Department.

“When I got there and we entered the trailer, the husband was lying on the living room floor with his hands tied behind his back deceased, the little girl was crying and sitting on the couch and the lady was in the far back bedroom bound and laying across the bed and she was deceased,” Reneau said.

Bruce and Margaret’s daughter Kerri was just 18 months old. She was miraculously left alive and unharmed by the killer and had survived for two days in the trailer.

“You don’t forget it you just don’t forget it,” Crewdson said.

Bill Bailey grew up nearby and played basketball with Bruce. He says Bruce worked hard to provide for his family and led private lives.

“It’s just something you didn’t hear about around here ….. it makes you wonder where anywhere you’re safe,” Bailey said.

Indiana State Police took over the investigation and after looking at several different angles, they focused on one person: a man named Robert Leslie.

“That was publicized in the newspapers he was listed as a suspect he committed suicide up in Detroit he had some involvement in some other crimes here in Allen county there were some warrants issued for him so he was a prime suspect at the time obviously once he’s deceased it kind of takes that away but yeah his name is all over this case,” Cap. Kevin Smith with Indiana State Police said.

Smith has been working the case for years and isn’t giving up hope that one day it could be solved.

“I will say this: I would not still be working on this case if I didn’t think we could solve it,” Smith said.

Robert Leslie, the prime suspect, was a truck driver and in case files, police found that the couple’s trailer sat right on one of Leslie’s routes. He even admitted to police that he had made a stop right before Christmas at the couple’s trailer to make a phone call after the brakes on his truck froze.

“It’s solved now as far as I’m concerned. I mean it’s they’re never going to be able to prove it not be able to walk up and get a certificate but there’s no doubt in my mind he did do it,” Crewdson said.

The fact that the case is still open doesn’t sit well with everyone.

“As long as it’s been I’ve started to kind of lose faith in that happening but I know with modern technology they have now in forensics there is a good chance it could be solved so why not,” Bailey said.

If anyone out there has information, now is the time to come forward.

“If there’s anybody in the Fort Wayne area that in the last 40 plus years has been told by somebody at one point, may have been a friend or close or even relative of theirs that they were involved in this, please call me,” Smit said, “if someone has been told by a family member friend or former friend that they did this and you’ve never called us or told us what you know please tell us I cannot believe that in this kind of a crime that is this heinous and got this much media attention that the people or persons involved did not talk about it. I cannot believe that.”

Documents confirm police pulled DNA evidence from the scene and it is still being preserved. Investigators hope technology continues to advance so DNA could possibly tie their main suspect to the scene.

Cap. Kevin Smith says he still keeps in touch with the couple’s daughter Kerri. She is alive and now in her 40′s.

One tip could close a case left open for decades, and bring justice once and for all for a young couple whose lives were cut short.

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