Donnell Stafford is behind bars for the murder of his wife, Leuh Moore, and throwing her body in a dumpster behind a store in Wichita, Kansas.
At around 6 p.m. on April 8, 2018, police officers with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to The Cave liquor store at 1701 S. Seneca after a 911 call about a deceased person inside a dumpster.
When officers arrived on the scene, a store employee told them that while a homeless man was rummaging through the dumpster, he saw the naked body of an adult female, according to The Wichita Eagle.
Police officials said the woman did not have any identification on her person, but they were later able to identify her as Moore, 37, through fingerprints taken during an autopsy.
The medical examiner also determined that Moore had been murdered, as her cause of death was a stab wound to the neck.
When officers went to her home in the 1100 block of West Dayton, near Seneca and Kellogg, where she lived with her husband and their 7-year-old son, they found two pit bulls suffering from stab wounds.
The dogs were taken to an emergency vet hospital, where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
During an investigation, Wichita police ascertained that a home surveillance video captured a Jeep Cherokee pulling up to the dumpster behind the liquor store at 4:33 a.m. on April 8, 2018.
The driver was seen removing the body from the car and throwing it in the dumpster, along with a McDonald’s polo work shirt, according to KTEN News.
Investigators then conducted a background check on Moore and Stafford and found out they had a history of domestic violence.
Stafford then became a person of interest.
Moore’s brother told reporters that “my nephew, he said he beat her daily. The feelings are still hard to show because it’s still unbelievable. It’s just very hard.”
“I can’t show my feelings at the moment. That tears you up.”
On the day Moore was found in a dumpster, Stafford dropped their son off at a relative’s home before leaving Wichita in his wife’s vehicle.
Wichita police then issued a BOLO (be on the lookout) for her 1998 Jeep Cherokee, as they listed it as a stolen vehicle.
According to Lt. Todd Ojile, when a state trooper in Davenport, Iowa, was checking hotels around 9:20 a.m. on April 10, 2018, he spotted Moore’s vehicle in the parking lot.
Stafford, who was 30 years old at the time, was arrested when the state trooper caught him walking down the stairs of the hotel. He was taken to the Scott County Jail and later extradited to Kansas.
He was then booked into the Sedgwick County Jail on charges of first-degree murder, two counts of cruelty to animals, and malicious torture or killing. He was held on a $650,000 bond.
On Oct. 22, 2018, a jury found Stafford guilty of murdering his wife and stabbing their two dogs.
The motive and the circumstances surrounding the murder are unknown, but investigators determined that the couple’s son was present when it happened.
He is now in the custody of Moore’s family.
The victim’s brother told KAKE News that “he’s going to have to have extensive counseling and therapy, but it’s one day at a time.”
“He was right in the middle of it, and he’s lucky that nothing happened to him. We gotta work together as a family to take care of him, to make sure he’s got everything he needs.”
In December 2018, District Judge Faith Maughan sentenced Stafford to 50 years to life in prison with no chance of parole.