When a woman is found dead from a shotgun blast outside her boyfriend’s home, police rule her death a suicide, but her parents believe she was murdered.

Smiling Rae Ann Mossor

Rae Ann Mossor

Police arriving at the scene of the crime covering the body of Rae Ann Mossor

She was found with the shotgun facing her


Police officer shining a light into a car

The car was running and the radio was on

On February 4th, 1986, at 7:53 p.m., a single shotgun blast ripped through a quiet Roanoke, Virginia, neighborhood. When police arrived, they found a woman’s body on the ground next to a car. Twenty-one year-old Rae Ann Mossor was pronounced dead at the scene with a shotgun wound to the chest. M. David Hooper was the chief of police for the City of Roanoke:

“When officers arrived at 7:57, they found a shotgun lying on the trunk of the car pointed in the direction of where the young lady would have been standing. She had dated a young man who lived in the house nearby. It was his car that she was lying beside.”

When police questioned Rae Ann’s boyfriend, he said that he and Rae Ann had an argument that ended with her saying, “What do I have to do to prove my love for you”? She then ran out the door. Three witnesses said she had threatened to kill herself. The police found no evidence of foul play and her death was ruled a suicide.

A gun on the hood of a car

The gun was on the hood

But Rae Ann’s parents believe they’ve found evidence proving that she was murdered, and they want an investigation. Ann Mossor is Rae Ann’s mother:

“When our daughter was murdered, she was charged and convicted of a crime she did not do to herself.  And the power within me and my husband both is to find out why, who, and what happened.”

When they examined police reports, Rae Ann’s parents discovered evidence that cast doubt on suicide as the cause of death. Rae Ann’s car was parked directly across the street from where she died. They discovered her car door was wide open, music was blaring from the radio, and her key was still in the ignition. She seemed to have left the car in a hurry.

The police found the 12-gauge shotgun lying on the trunk of the car. Rae Ann’s parents believe that if Rae Ann had shot herself, the weapon would have fallen to the ground beside her body. According to Ann Mossor, Rae Ann’s arm measured 29 inches, but the distance from the trigger of the shotgun to the muzzle was 36 inches:

“My arm length was very close to my daughter’s arm length. So I took a broomstick and measured it out to be able to push that trigger with my thumb and to be able to get it in after we’d seen the body diagram. I couldn’t reach it.”

Police marking a 36.5 inches on a tape measure with an expo marker

They measured the distance to the trigger

On the night of Rae Ann’s death, authorities told her parents there would be an autopsy.  Two weeks later, Ann Mossor says, she and Ron discovered that it had never been performed or even requested. The Mossors had Rae Ann’s body exhumed. Finally, six months after her death, an autopsy was performed by Dr. David Oxley, the original medical examiner.

According to Oxley’s report, Rae Ann was killed by a contact wound to the chest, meaning the muzzle of the gun was against her skin. In addition, powder burns were found on Rae Ann’s left wrist. After the autopsy, the medical examiner declined to change the ruling of “suicide.” Ann Mossor wasn’t satisfied:

“There was nothing matching. Things weren’t adding up right, so that’s when we decided to get another opinion.”

The Mossors contacted Dr. John Butts, the Chief Medical Examiner for the State of North Carolina. Dr. Butts said his conclusions differed significantly from the findings of the autopsy:

“It seems like suicide is extremely unlikely. I could see that the muzzle of the weapon was several feet from her body at the time of the discharge. The appearance of the powder on her hand indicate that that hand was close to the muzzle of the gun at discharge, perhaps grabbing at the gun, perhaps holding the gun. Now, whatever was at the other end of that gun, I don’t know.”

Based on Dr. Butts’ findings, the medical examiner officially changed the manner of death from “suicide” to “pending.”  Still, Ann Mossor says, there was no investigation:

“We knew when we read Dr. Butts’ statement that it had to go on until we found out what happened.”

The Mossors set out to get a third opinion. They contacted Dr. Vincent DiMaio, one of the country’s leading forensic scientists:

“When I received the material that they had, I thought that the case had been screwed up.  The police had a pre-set notion as to what had happened and they just didn’t follow through with an investigation. The medical examiner should have performed an autopsy.  He should’ve been suspicious as soon as he saw the pattern of injuries. It’s not a contact wound. She couldn’t have inflicted it.”

According to test performed by Dr. DiMaio and an assistant, Dr. DiMaio showed that it was physically impossible for Rae Ann to have shot herself in the chest:

“This means that somebody else pulled the trigger. It’s possible that the reason her left hand was adjacent to the muzzle at the time it was fired was that she had grabbed it and was attempting to push the gun away at the time it was fired.”

Again, the Mossors asked for the investigation to be reopened. Again, their request was denied. Ronald Mossor is Rea Ann’s father:

“He was stonewalling.  He just would not do anything. He just was sitting on his buns and wasn’t doing anything.”

The Mossors next contacted R.J. Breglio, a ballistics investigator. He tried to figure out if Rae Ann could have accidentally discharged the gun by dropping it on the ground or hitting it against the car in anger. According to Breglio:

“The butt test is a test to see if by dropping or slamming the butt of the gun against the floor when it is cocked, if it could fire. I performed this time many times with the shotgun and I could not get it to discharge. In my opinion, I don’t see how it would have landed neatly on the trunk of that car. I think it would shoot off of the ground in whichever way it happened to fall.”

Again, the Mossors sent the new evidence to Donald Caldwell, the Commonwealth Attorney, and requested that the case be reopened. According to Ann Mossor,
all he did was acknowledge receipt of the letter and nothing more:

“I made a promise to my daughter, before that casket lid was closed. I said, ‘Rae Ann, if this is not what it looks like, if it takes me the rest of my life, I’ll find out what happened to you.’”

Three years after Rae Ann died, the state medical examiner changed the manner of death to “undetermined.” There has still been no investigation, and the medical examiner and Commonwealth Attorney declined to be interviewed for this story.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season two with Robert Stack and season five with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.




  1. Anonymous

    Under Virginia laws, it would be illegal if someone else shot her. (That is crazy.) They should have questioned the 3 witnesses. How were they able to hear what was said with loud music? Also why wasn’t the boyfriend tested for gunshot residue? (That would have sealed the deal on the manner of death.) It is unfortunate that she went through what she did. The entire community was impacted by that tragedy.


  2. Anonymous

    Am arm reach can go as far as the scapula length if it really wanted to reach something. 3 witnesses have issued statements. It is difficult to call all four of those people (including the boyfriend) l8ars.


  3. Anonymous

    There can’t be a wrongful death lawsuit brought against The state of Virginia for not assisting with family with peace of mind within this case


  4. Lwebb

    Definitely think it’s the boyfriend. If she was threatening for attention as indicated she would have made sure he was watching. Why is her car on and radio on loud? Why is a shot heard after she allegedly said she’d shoot herself and the boyfriend never investigated? Who are the other people who heard her say that? His family? It’s in front of HIS house HIS car and with a bizarre weapon, it was him. Would love to know who’s gun it was although it wouldn’t change my mind. IF it wasn’t the bf then it’s someone directly connected to him. Someone needs to do some leg work (since the police obviously) people need to talk to family and friends of the boy friend. The ex girl etc one of them has heard something or knows something or saw something period.


    • kamarehaynes

      I can I agree with your statement knowing that it was impossible for her to reach the trigger of the 12 gauge even though her arm length was 26in and the length of the shotgun was 36 inches and it was impossible for her to kill herself and the gun wasn’t lying on the ground beside her if she killed herself it would have been cider butt and say that it was on the car hood somebody killed her and if might have been her boyfriend


  5. percival

    she may have left in a hurry because somebody was in the car with her, or she was planning on leaving in a hurry. either way. this could possibly hinge on who’s gun this was. the boyfriend wasn’t the killer though obviously. rich? materialistic? these are properties of people who do not like to have their reputation blemished. he definitely would not want to get his hands dirty. two ways he could have been involved: authorized a third person to carry the ax, in other words telling somebody else to do it, maybe a professional. but then she would have simply disappeared. or he simply kept quiet even though he knew something. most likely though he is just an ignorant fool, obviously not a criminal mastermind. i would like to know any enemies the poor girl had. because this could have been some other girl who also liked the boyfriend but after they broke up wanted to make a move not wanting to take any chances. this would have to be somebody who has perhaps psychopathic tenancies and the ability to be analytical. the boy had money? she could have been after that.

    my thinking: she was in her car, wanting to talk to the boy for whatever reason. but she saw somebody in the back seat and got out in a hurry. she was then confronted by the third party, possibly the other lover i mentioned, who then shot her. then fled the scene.

    but i wonder if he is married now…………


    • Becca Cochran

      No the boy wasn’t rich that’s one thing I do remember. There were other thing’s not mentioned. She had just enlisted in the service and was excited about her journey. This man wasn’t her bf but was a blind date she had and she wasn’t interested in having a relationship with the guy. He married the one person who for sure seen and knew exactly what happened so they couldn’t force her to testify. The one thing that made her mom and dad realize something wasn’t right about her death was when they handed her mom her personal affects. It’s truly sad to see personally the affects this had on her family the day’s,week’s,month’s,year’s after this tragic death


  6. dragonWolfe

    I have often wondered whose gun was it and why the police didn’t investigate to find out. we don’t know what exactly happened at the ex boyfriends home because only he and his family members have spoke of it, and of course pointed the finger at Rae Ann Mossor. However this wasn’t the only suspicious death in Virginia that was ruled a suicide. Don’t forget about Tommy Burkett. all the evidence regarding his case point to murder but Virginia LE has only treated it as a suicide. Either Virginias LE agencies are inept or very corrupt. To me any young persons death that appears suspicious should be investigated as a homicide until it can be proven otherwise.


  7. Karen

    The question is: who’s gun was it? That would clear up a lot.


  8. Jj2000

    Tommy what was the boyfriend’s name


  9. Dee

    I was thinking the same thing. Ray Ann’s death being ruled a suicide presumably hinges on the 3 witnesses that were allegedly there the night she died. Who were the 3 witnesses? All the evidence gathered by Ray Ann’s parents pointed to an obvious coverup by authorities, including the first medical examiner who lied to them saying he’d do an autopsy and never did. Ray Ann’s father said he felt “stonewalled” at various times during his search for answers. What was law enforcement hiding? Who were they protecting? I think this would become more clear if the identities of the 3 witnesses were known, and find who they are associated with.

    If some shameful authorities were in fact covering this up then they’re no better than common criminals. Not everyone in law enforcement deserves the badge they wear.


    • Anonymous

      Some people can touch their toes, others just have no flexibility. Their entire theory is just arm reach. No motive for the boyfriend or anything.


  10. Jade Carroll

    This case really needs to be reopened. There was obviously foul play, as it is pretty much impossible for her to have shot herself in the chest the way she was shot; and also the position of the gun. I don’t know how the law enforcement involved in this case can sleep at night knowing that a young woman was murdered and they did nothing to bring her or her family any justice. A killer walked free, and probably lived their life while she barely even got to start living hers. If possible, and if not already attempted recently, her family members should really push and be persistent in trying to get the case reopened and actually investigated. it’s not too late. I feel for her family so much. this is just heartbreaking, and I can’t even imagine what they’ve gone through. They deserve answers, peace, and closure. and the person responsible needs to pay for what they’ve done. There is no doubt in my mind that she was murdered. My thoughts are with her family, friends, and loved ones. The world lost a beautiful woman that didn’t even barely get a chance.

    if any of her family is reading this, I am so, so sorry that she was taken from you too soon, that her life was taken, and that justice has not been served. I hope that somehow the right person will be willing to actually acknowledge that she was murdered and begin an investigation. I hope this case gets solved. You will see her again someday, and whoever did this will pay whether it’s in this life or what’s after. I just really hope for a resolution. My prayers and thoughts are with you.


  11. Beverly Meador

    Nobody really knows!! Don’t think it was the boy friend.


  12. SolidusRaccoon

    This one is a tough call. If you do think it was the boy friend, then he must have balls of steel. To kill her in the open, in front of his house and car, to leave the gun right there, go inside and wait causally for the police to arrive, and hope it will be ruled a suicide. If that happened then either he has all the luck in the world, or a grand conspiracy going all the way to the top, If he did aim a gun at her why did she not scream or call for help? All of those people willing to put their careers on the line just to cover up a murder? Police, medical examiners, and state attorneys. Wouldn’t someone higher up get suspicious if the case was this shady?

    And on the other hand, her short arms to tend to rule out suicide. BUT she could have used a small branch or something. And the parents to do come off as grasping at straws sometimes.

    Either way we were not given enough information. I know UM does hold back info or details to make some cases sound more dramatic.


    • Becca Cochran

      They were not grasping at straws…wow
      Put yourself in their position and see how your mind NEVER stop’s because you know something is not right about the way it was handled


  13. Bill Blaski

    So if she shot herself how did the shot gun get laid perfectly on the trunk? The gun wouldve laid on the ground, im perplexed by this. Bring justice to the mossor family


  14. thinkingoutloud

    seems to me the boyfriend’s and his family is involved. they have 3 witnesses claiming that’s what happened but i’m sure all 3 witnesses are related to the boyfriend or good friends/neighbors with that family. we have no names or any other information on that family and they didn’t even bother to do an autopsy because they had already planned to keep it looking like a suicide.

    i wonder why they killed her. she was clearly killed out in the open so i’m shocked how they pulled that off. they need to look more into the boyfriend, we have no statements from him whatsoever and his opinion on her death.


    • Anonymous

      You can confuse a witness. But you shouldn’t accuse. They gave an account of what they believed they heard. If they know the boyfriend or are friends is unrelated.


  15. Walter

    Just throwing this thought out there: if someone pointed a shotgun at you wouldn’t you more than likely push the barrel end of the gun away and not the trigger area?
    Just trying to see it from all points of view.


    • Anonymous

      I would get off of their property. The laws are different today. If the boyfriend was to shoot her, it would be legal.


    • Anonymous

      Willam Carruth and Chad Read. it is legal to shoot someone who grabs your gun. If it was a stand your ground, I’m sure the boyfriend would have admitted.


  16. Tommy

    I lived in the neighborhood at the time this happened. I was 4 at the time and my parents, sister, and I were in he basement at the time when we heard there gunshot and dad ran upstairs to look out the windows to see if he could see anything. The boyfriend and his parents lived behind our house in a very large White House. They were rude, materialistic, and did have a lot of money.


    • Tommy

      I also remember when unsolved mysteries came to video their segment. They did it just down from our house using a different street than where the incident actually occurred. The old mans house they used for their segment belonged to a man I remember only knowing as “Smokey”. And they used my sister and I’s sidewalk chalk.


  17. Tommy

    I lived in the same neighborhood at the time this happened. I was 4 years old at the time. I was in basement with my parents and sister when we heard the gun shot and dad ran upstairs and looked outside. The people that lived in the big house behind ours were the boyfriend and his parents. They were not nice people and very rude. They did have a lot of money and were very materialistic.


  18. Shell

    3 witnesses heard her say “what do I have to do to prove that I love you? KILL MYSELF?”

    Let me guess who they were.
    1- Her ex boyfriend
    2- Her ex boyfriend’s Mommy
    3- Her ex boyfriend’s Daddy… or Grandma?

    As viewers, we do not have enough information to make any determination.

    They do not say who called 911.

    But my vote goes to the ex boyfriend as being the murderer, unless he is from the rich side of town and she from the other side of town. Because people from the rich side of town should never be investigated, or even remotely suspected of any wrong doing. …yes, that is sarcasm.

    They did not say if they properly investigated the scene of the crime. We do not know if anything was found in the vicinity. A stick, screw driver, etc., that would have enabled her to push the trigger with the barrel against the right side of her chest. But I imagine the DA would have made sure everyone knew, if that had been the case.

    God Rest, Rae Ann.
    May your soul be at peace.
    May your parent’s souls rest easy, knowing they have done you justice.

    Hellish torment awaits all those that have wronged you.


  19. Chris

    Did they ever check the gun for fingerprints? If she pulled the trigger her prints should have been all over the trigger and the rest of the gun.


    • Anonymous

      They found residue. It is very difficult to dispute that. If she grabbed the barrel that is justification to using a gun. You can’t just grab a police officers gun if he has you at gun point. Citizen’s have the same rights. They can even make a Citizen’s arrest.


  20. Alex. V

    To me it looks like a girl in love but with broken heart and desperate to prove it I’m sure most of us have been in that moment of our life’s when we did not wanted to live on cause of the similar situation
    Now in my opinion we have to put out selfie in her shoes at that moment and imagine what happened
    In this case she ran out of her boyfriends house crying and heaterical got in to the car started it and remembered about the gun in the trunk so she jumped out of the car while it’s on went to her trunk opened it got a gun out then closed the trunk put a gun on the trunk ( cause imagine how impossible it be to hold it by the barrel ) THEN SHE LOOKED AROUND FOR SOMETHING THAT COULD REACH THE TRIGGER !!!
    Police did not took their time to secure area or check it for all the evidence. She could of had a stick or a tree branch in her hand that she used to reach the trigger that flew out of her hand when gun went of.
    And of course gun would just stay on the trunk
    See if this option is possible in this case


  21. Anonymous

    JDE, Mr. Farina is no longer with us.

    G-d rest him.


  22. Bails

    When your girlfriend leaves threatening to kill herself and you hear a shotgun blast outside you either go check on her or call 911…..her boyfriend did neither one of those things……..because HE PULLED THE TRIGGER AND KILLED HER!


  23. Scott

    The fact that everyone locally involved in the case tried to shut it down is the loudest attempt at a cover up. The police, the morgue attendant, the jury and the commonwealth ALL ran from this like either cowards or criminals. If this wasn’t true it would make a great episode of a cop show. The ex boyfriend has to be involved with someone HIGH up because there is no other obvious choice. If you don’t agree then watch the episode again and this time pay attention.


  24. MC

    What a sad case. It appears to be poor police work as none of it makes sense especially the interview with the boyfriend. he says oh I heard a shotgun and if somebody was out there with a shotgun I didn’t want to go out. Makes no sense if your girlfriend just threatened to kill herself you hear a gunshot your first response is to run out there and look because you are thinking suicide and it would be a gut reaction. However if you have more presence of mind and you’re truly fearful like he claimed you would call 911 thinking that maybe she’s trying to harm you. Does anyone know if this guy is still alive and does he have any other questionable incidents. A lot of time has passed has anybody attempted to get this case reopened with a new DA. I can’t imagine the anguish the family feel. This could be any of our daughters, sisters or mothers. I pray for justice.


  25. joey

    Any way to watch this


  26. joey

    Any updates on this or what happen


  27. lillyrer

    I did not read the whole thing
    so everyone needs to quit scaring little children like this fissty one right here on
    the other sid elf the screen!!


  28. Brenda mossor

    Rest In heaven.. I love you very much .. We know you didn’t do it.. God will get them .. love you cuz .. tell mom I said hello


  29. Kathryn

    I graduated college with honors in Criminal Justice here I’m California, and can tell you that this was a shoddy investigation on the most basic level. Why has a cold case unit not reinterviewed the ex boyfriend and the alleged 3 witnesses who heard her threaten to kill herself? Then multiple reenactment attempts to see if its plausible for the gun to have landed on the hood. Finally doesn’t it sound unlikely that a guy who claims to have heard his ex girlfriend threaten to kill herself and then hears a shot gun blast, doesn’t call 911 out of fear she did so?? I wish a retired private investigator or law enforcement officer in that area could look into these very basic things.


  30. Anonymous

    It was the boyfriend come on. She was leaving he came out pointed the gun at her she got out of her car. Then he shot her…


    • Anon

      I just saw the episode airing on CBS Reality in the UK. I thought the exact same thing as you. It was pretty obvious who fired the gun. Absolutely ridiculous policing. Is this how the USA police operate? Pathetic. Very sad that the poor girl died and her parents never got justice.


    • Anonymous

      The music being blasted real loud would support that. He could have lost it. But 3 witnesses overheard her. Some where even woken up from her.


  31. JDE

    Dear Dennis Farina and Mrs. Mosser (mother of Rae Ann)

    Before this episode finished, well. . isn’t it obvious to ANYONE why this Prosecutor in North Carolina simply refuses to properly bring this case? The most her parents could achieve, by bringing in themselves both a top ballistics and forensics specialist, was only an upgrade of her autopsy/police report from originally “suicide”, then to “pending” then to “undetermined” ??? – THIS IS AN OUTRAGE against the gun and physical facts of the death. ISN’T it obvious this family is dealing with a clear case of corruption at the D.A.’s office???, AND if they investigate the relationships within the District Attorney’s office to familial or other relationships to her (Rae Ann’s) then current boyfriend and his family at the time of her death, that’s where the answer will be found, and in doing so it uncovers the killer at the same time. Save, the remote possibility she may have used her legs to position the gun and her toe to pull the trigger while sitting on the hood of her car (has anyone considered that?), save that possibility, and that the D.A. hasn’t even come up with that to mitigate the family’s insistence that this case must be investigated – THE D.A.s office in this instance is corrupt, someone took a bribe, I see no other way to see it or explain their (lack of) logical action upon such simple forensic facts of her death. Or last possibility is to check this D.A’s personal case records you may see a pattern of where this particular prosecutor is just a male chauvinist, misogynistic creep himself and doesn’t care to prosecute cases and get justice for women who have been killed by their boyfriends or whatever man was in their life. AND that is a 95% statistical fact when there is a death or when ANY woman goes missing, it is the man in their life at that time who is responsible. If the Mosser’s want justice for their daughter it starts with investigation of the D.A. by higher office and all will be revealed. GOOD LUCK., JDE


    • Law Prof

      Mr. Farina passed away in July 2013 and as for your “95% statistical fact” not so. You’re obviously a novice with free time so take your energy and enthusiasm for conspiracy theories and back it up-with facts. Good luck to YOU.


    • Walter

      So a lot of women date pervs in vans then?
      non-lethal crimes 95% of the time, maybe. But kidnapping and/or murder: no. Because they know they would be the first suspect.


  32. Prinkey

    She could have been leaning on the trunk which would have given her enough reach to shoot herself


  33. Kristina

    I live in the above mentioned quiet neighborhood in which this took place. I was only one at the time, but began living in the neighborhood a year or two after this happened. I’m going to assume there will never be an update.


    • JDE

      After 30 years Kristina? probably no update, I wouldn’t know when the episode was filmed as opposed to aired on T.V., and as this happened 1986., do you even know if her mother is still alive? Since you live there, do you know what a happened to the case at the local level?


    • Eric W Bohannon

      I’m going to assume there will never be an update. She Says, If this is Krista, it is a set up, and she knows all the important People involved.


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