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Press: Multiple Arrests in Matchmaker Murder

Oxford Eagle, Thursday, June 8, 2000

Multiple Arrests Made in Matchmaker Murder
Four suspects in custody, charged with murder of Trudi Rose

by Joe Pye Weed

After an investigation spanning more than two months, the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department arrested four suspects early Wednesday in the April murder of Cupid's Couples co-owner Trudi Rose. Taken into custody were Natasha Van Moore, owner of Oxford charm school Good Graces; Billie Jasper and Kay Ramsey, both employees of Good Graces; and Dana Pomeroy, an employee of both Good Graces and Cupid's Couples. The women were allegedly involved in an elaborate prostitution and extortion scheme that culminated in the murder of Trudi Rose.

Rose was found dead in her office on April 3, 2000, a victim of arsenic poisoning. Forensic analysis revealed Rose had been subjected to chronic arsenic poisoning for several weeks before her death and was given a final, acute dose via a batch of homemade brownies she received the day of her death. Investigators were stumped for weeks about the source of the fatal brownies, but now reportedly have evidence they were baked and delivered to Rose by one or more of the suspects now in custody. A source close to the investigation said the case was "blown wide open" when one of the women approached detectives, offering information in exchange for reduced charges.

A statement issued by the District Attorney's office named Van Moore as the mastermind of the alleged crime ring, with Jasper, Pomeroy, and Ramsey acting as her accomplices. A number of Good Graces students, who worked as high-priced call girls for Van Moore, have also been implicated. Details of Van Moore's operation have not been released, but unofficial accounts indicate that patrons of the prostitution ring and victims of the blackmail scheme include many of Oxford's elite. Some speculate that many of Van Moore's targets were the same people she socialized with during her marriage to local banker, Ken Edwards. Trudi Rose apparently was killed when she discovered the operation and threatened to expose it.

Bobby Joe Rose, husband of the murder victim, declined to comment on the arrests, but Kelly Clinton, co-owner of Cupid's Couples, said, "I can't believe it. Three of them either work for us now or have worked for us in the past. I never thought any of them were capable of this." Clinton stated that she and Bobby Joe Rose, who now owns his late wife's share of the business, have decided to close Cupid's Couples for the summer while they determine the future of the business. According to Clinton, a decision will be made on whether to re-open the dating service by September 1.

A search Tuesday of Van Moore's residence, which also houses the offices of Good Graces, reportedly uncovered large amounts of cash as well as explicit photographs and video tapes of a number of prominent Oxford citizens. Van Moore was also found to be in possession of a toxic substance later identified as arsenic trioxide, the poison used in the murder of Trudi Rose. The arrests were made Wednesday, following the receipt of those test results. Sources say the suspects had been under close 24-hour surveillance since Monday until the time of their arrests Wednesday morning.

Van Moore and her associates are expected to be arraigned today on numerous charges including murder, extortion, and prostitution.

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