Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rock n Roll Homicide Part Two

Missing Presumed Dead


Timothy Donald Moreau came to Portland in August 1986 to attend Reed College. Moreau had grown up in New Orleans, LA, where he was an Eagle Scout with one younger brother. According to his roommate at Reed, Moreau was a “mama’s boy” who was 15 pounds overweight when he arrived as a freshman.

Reed changed Tim Moreau, as it was meant to do. He became a vegetarian and started an exercise program, dropping his excess weight. He also began to take LSD, nothing unusual for a “Reedie” then or now.

After his first year at Reed, Moreau was a disillusioned young man. He was also extremely unpopular on campus, because he regarded most of his fellow students as “hippies” and not worth his respect.

In December, 1988 Moreau quit school to pursue a career in music promotion. With a friend, Wade Benson, Moreau started Riddlers, a recorded music dance club that met twice weekly at the Red Sea Restaurant.

In March, 1989 Moreau was hired at Starry Night to help with promotion, among other things. Moreau was excited about his job at Starry Night and he looked up to his employer, Larry Hurwitz as a role model. “Larry took him under his wing,” Jason Lally, Moreau’s roommate said, “Tim totally worshipped him.”

Moreau continued his experimentation with drugs and alternative sexuality. Close friends said that leather restraints and bondage devices were found in his apartment after he disappeared. Police also found ticket stock and other equipment for counterfeiting concert tickets in Moreau’s apartment.

Makes you wonder, though if good old Larry might have visited Moreau’s place before the police. Kindly old boss Larry was eager to tell the police about Moreau’s drug use as well.

January 23, 1990, the same day news of the counterfeit tickets was published in the Oregonian, Tim Moreau was summoned to Starry Night. Four days later, friends of Moreau reported him missing.

When police searched Moreau’s apartment the Oregonian reported that they found checkbooks, credit cards and cash. They also found “key evidence that suggested that there is a counterfeit conspiracy'' involving several other concerts in Portland. Detective Steve Baumgarte, of the Portland Homicide Division, took over the investigation into Moreau’s disappearance.

Already it wasn’t adding up as a disappearance. Hurwitz was telling the story that Moreau had gone into hiding because of the counterfeit scam. He went into hiding, but left all of his money behind.

"He left virtually everything behind,'' Baumgarte said. "That gives us quite a bit of concern. We consistently come across things that don't lead us to the conclusion that he went away on his own.''

Larry said that Moreau lost him in his car during a chase. Yet Hurwitz drove a high powered sports car, Moreau's car was a beat-up old Datsun that would barely do 55.

Larry wanted to create the impression that he was alone with Moreau when they met at Starry Night on January 23, but that was not true. Monitoring the meeting from another room, in case Larry needed help during the confrontation, was stagehand George Castagnola. Castagnola had been charged with attempted murder in 1981 when he “accidentally” fired a handgun during a police drug raid at his home. The charge was dismissed in a plea bargain.

In 1991, Larry Hurwitz sued Willamette Week and reporter Jim Redden for libel in their article Missing Presumed Dead which was published in June 1990. Redden’s article, which has been one of my main sources, outlined most of the charges and suspicions that I have recounted.

Hurwitz claimed that he "has suffered non-economic damages including but not limited to: humiliation; the scorn of friends, neighbors, and members of the community; embarrassment, anxiety, sleeplessness,'' since the publication. The case was eventually thrown out, but it may have been Hurwitz’s fatal error.

A year after Moreau’s disappearance, Baumgarte considered the case to be homicide. Moreau’s parents Mike and Peggy became very active in trying to find their son, spending thousands of dollars on private investigators and reward offers, but still no trace of Moreau could be found.

In the summer of 1992, Dave Wilson, an employee at Starry Night came to the police with a story he had heard drinking with coworkers. They said that Hurwitz “and another guy” killed Moreau in Hurwitz’s office. Then they weighted the body down with microphone stands and dumped it in the Willamette River under the Steel Bridge.

Baumgarte asked Wilson to wear a wire and talk with Hurwitz to try and gather some evidence. Wilson disappeared. The disappearance of another Starry Night employee raised the pressure against Hurwitz, who had already sold Starry Night, but still he seemed untouchable.

The police searched the river, but found no body. The next day they arrived at Starry Night with a search warrant and confiscated the carpet in Hurwitz’s old office, turning it over to the crime lab for analysis.

Wilson surfaced a short time later, when he was arrested in Springfield, OR on a cocaine charge. He said that he had been camping in the woods for the last two months. He also said that he had made up the murder story to try to help a friend who was facing drug charges in southern Oregon.

Police were stymied. Baumgarte didn’t doubt that Hurwitz had killed the young man; in fact he was pretty sure that he had. But knowing and proving are two different things – the Policeman’s Paradox.

Coming Soon:
Rock n Roll Homicide Part Three: Travels With Larry
Rock n Roll Homicide Part Four: Facing the Music
Rock n Roll Homicide Part One: Starry Night

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