Sunday, June 17, 2007

Moore said he toyed with investigators

Convicted killer explains why he recanted confession in disappearance of Rachel Cooke.

By Chuck Lindell
Saturday, June 16, 2007

The last time Michael Keith Moore surfaced in public, he was expected to admit to kidnapping and killing Rachel Cooke, whose 2002 disappearance still haunts her family and Williamson County.

But Moore, serving life sentences for a 2003 murder, pleaded not guilty in November in the Cooke case — reneging on a deal with prosecutors and dragging the Cooke family through another round of bitter disappointment.

Now Moore, in his first prison interview since that surprise plea, said he was telling the truth when he pleaded not guilty. He claims he duped investigators because he was getting special treatment in prison, including extra visits with his ex-wife and having prison infractions wiped off his record, as long as he cooperated.

Investigators, calling Moore a born manipulator, aren't buying his story.

Cooke's father isn't sure what to think.

"It's kind of hard to tell with this guy. He's probably a compulsive liar. He's a predator, and that's part of the way he goes after people is to lie," Robert Cooke said. "He's definitely a suspect, and they have to look closely at him. But based on his history, how much of what he says can you believe?

"I'm hoping somehow we can piece all this together. Either get more evidence on him, or else omit him," Robert Cooke said.

Shortly after his not guilty plea, Moore scheduled — then canceled — interviews with several TV and newspaper reporters. The American-Statesman published a profile of Moore in December that characterized him as a narcissist who craves attention and who believes his intelligence allows him to toy with, and outwit, investigators.

Moore, who has spent most of his adult life in prison, took exception to that article in a January letter to the newspaper, but fell silent when invited to give his version of events.

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