Teerea Kimbro sat by the chicken casserole she’d labored over in the kitchen of her Georgia home, excited for her brother to return and enjoy his favorite home-cooked meal.
Moses Moseley – who she fondly calls “my baby” and “Buddy” – had left earlier that Sunday for a taping, he told Teerea; the 31-year-old walking Dead actor’s career was going from strength to strength after his star turn in the runaway hit zombie series. He’d been staying with his big sister and her family of her over the holidays, chattering excitedly about an upcoming audition and his burgeoning Hollywood profile of him.
He went out, promising to return home later for the meal of casserole, dinner rolls and steamed broccoli.
But the spread remained there, untouched by Moses, as Teerea waited for hours. Then days.
And on the Thursday after he walked out her front door, Teerea and her family received the news that they’d been dreading: her brother had been found dead, shot in his car. The vehicle’s doors were locked and a gun – a weapon he’d borrowed from Teerea – lay in his lap in the parking lot of a strip mall just minutes from his big sister’s house.
None of it made sense.
“He had booked an audition on that Monday and never showed to it; he never does that,” she tells The Independent. “Moses was the person who would not just get there on time but get there early.”
She adds: “To be able to love what you do, and you can do this at your own pace and on your own time, who would give that up? He was at the peak of his career for him.”
Moses had been stopped on campus while studying at the Georgia State University and asked whether he’d like to be an extra, she says. He was then bitten by the acting bug and secured work on screen and in modelling.
The siblings were military brats, thick as thieves; Teerea, Moses and their middle sibling traveled around the world before settling in Georgia, where their Navy father eventually retired.
The actor had battled with his weight during his youth, at one point reaching 300 pounds, she says – but lost it and was a huge believer in positive thinking and “manifesting his future… when you feel it inside of you, in your heart and in your head, it can become tangible,” his sister says.
The actor, who shot to fame as one of Michonne’s pet zombies in The Walking Dead, also wrote inspirational books and was working on a third. The 31-year-old devoted his time to altruistic efforts such as volunteering at camps for young people battling weight issues, as well, his sister says.
She spoke with Moses every day; on the off chance he was having phone trouble or was held up, she says, he’d find a way to let her know – even driving to her Jonesboro, Georgia home one time when his cell phone was on the fritz, she tells The Independent.
That’s why, when she didn’t hear from Moses on the night she made the chicken casserole – and he failed to return home the next day – she knew that something was wrong.
“When I get off work, he’s going to be in my house,” she thought, knowing how devoted he was to her daughter, nicknamed “Chipmunk” by her doting uncle.
“I started calling random hospitals just to see if… something happened,” she tells The Independent. “I called our brother, I called our dad, I called my mother, our grandmother, everybody.”
By Wednesday, she’d decided to file a missing persons report.
“I had a terrible feeling,” she says. “I had a nervous, unknowing just pit in my stomach. I felt sick. I felt physically sick… I called my dad and I said, “Daddy, I don’t feel right; I’m going to the police station … and he was like, ‘Baby, I don’t feel right either.’”
She says she decided that she’d “rather [Moses] be embarrassed that I called police and filed a missing persons report” than refrain from doing so to spare his feelings. She also contacted OnStar to track his Chevrolet Camaro, which was done once permission was obtained from police.
They found the vehicle in a car park in Stockbridge on the evening of January 26, not far from her house.
According to the police report, responding officers observed a Taurus handgun with no magazine on Moses’ lap; he’d sustained a gunshot wound to the right side of his face, was unresponsive and was soon declared dead after investigators arrived on the scene.
The siblings’ father was contacted first by police, who called and then drove to the house to break the news; next up was Teerea, who initially refused to believe the worst.
They said “my baby had been shot,” she tells The Independent, her voice choked with tears. “Everything around me was just spinning at that point. I didn’t know how to feel; I felt so lost. I felt helpless.
“After that point, every single day has been so hard… It feels overwhelming. I’m still grasping that, every day I wake up, that this is my reality.”
What’s also been hard to grasp for the wider family is the line of inquiry suggesting that Moses took his own life – especially when he was looking forward to auditions, good-naturedly boasting about work on social media and even planning trips abroad with relatives in the coming months.
“’This is the best I have ever felt in my life, and I cannot believe where my career’s taking me:’ He said those words to me on January the 11th after we had just finished celebrating our dad’s birthday party,” Teerea says.
She also takes issue with the logistics of the crime scene, which continues to be investigated by Georgia police. A spokesman for the Henry County Police Department in the Atlanta metro area told The Independent on Monday that the case remained under investigation and no autopsy report had yet been filed.
“He’s never been in trouble with the law, ever in his life – so we knew that wasn’t it,” his sister says. And she finds a suicide theory even more implausible; she believes her brother de ella left her home on Sunday, was held for days and ultimately killed.
The Taurus was her weapon; both siblings enjoyed going to the range and had gun licences, and Moses tended to borrow her gun from her when he visited.
“He’s right-handed,” says Ms Kimbro, who doesn’t like to discuss her brother in the past tense. “If you shoot yourself, the gun is going to end up falling on the right side of the car – not on your lap. So that doesn’t make sense easier.”
A murderer, she says, will “try to stage it to make it look like what it’s not”.
She points out how easily it would also be to lock the Camaro when a passenger or other door was open – then shut it to make it look like Moses locked it himself.
Teerea believes her brother’s death could be the result of a crime of passion; he was casually dating women but nothing serious, she says, given his work commitments – and had just told at least one love interest he wasn’t ready for more of a relationship than friendship.
She also believes the death could be connected to the entertainment business or some type of rivalry.
Regardless, she wants answers – and remains in shock, as does the rest of her family.
“My mom was like, ‘What if somebody stole… his car; it might not be him,’” she says. “I was hoping for anything.”