Real Name: Gerald Casale Moss
Wanted For: Abduction
Missing Since: November 30, 1990
Details: Thirty-six-year-old Jerry Moss is wanted for abducting his son, Joey, from his mother, Kathy Alter. The couple met in 1983. She had just finished nursing school. He was a bricklayer, working in New York City and commuting home to the suburbs. She recalled that he had a very strong personality. When he was in a good mood, he was the “life of the party”. He was very intelligent and seemed very confident in himself. In 1984, she found out she was pregnant. She moved in with him, but for him, marriage was out of the question.
When Kathy and Jerry started living together, he set “guidelines” of how he wanted things to go in their relationship and household. He wanted as much freedom as possible, as if he was a bachelor. As a result, she never knew what time he would come home. Although he would get off the train at 7pm, there were times that he would not come home until 11pm. He would never call or consider what she was going through.
On one occasion, when Jerry came home late, he asked where his dinner was. Kathy told him it was ready hours ago, when he was supposed to be home. He told her that he had stopped at a bar with his friends. She asked if he could just call to let her know he would be late. He became angry, saying that he did not need permission to go out and that he worked hard so he should have a warm meal when he comes home. He then demanded her to make a new dinner.
On July 2, 1985, Kathy gave birth to a son. Jerry named him “Dubenion Joseph Moss” after one of his favorite football stars, Elbert Dubenion. Jerry’s nickname for the baby was “Duby”. According to Kathy, Jerry paid the rent; she alone was responsible for all of the baby’s expenses. She began to work the evening shift as a recovery room nurse. During Summer 1987, she took on the added burden of painting and remodeling the kitchen. One day, she came home from work, walked in the kitchen and found a message from Jerry written in red crayon on the wall: “Get More Baby Bottles”. She was furious since she had spent all that time working on the kitchen. She felt as if he was saying that he did not care about anything she did.
Kathy had had enough. Jerry had not spoken to her in weeks. In late August 1987, she took Joey and left. She found an apartment in Verplanck, New York, twelve miles away. A few months later, she began dating Mike Alter, a medical student. In 1988, when he was in his last semester at medical school, he and Kathy married. Joey was their ring bearer. Mike had been accepted into a residency program in Orlando, Florida. Jerry fought to obtain a restraining order, barring Kathy from taking Joey out of New York.
Mike did not want to replace Jerry’s role as Joey’s father. He just wanted to be an important part of Joey’s life. However, nothing they had to offer suited Jerry. He only wanted what he wanted, and would not have any part of any compromise. If it was not his way, it was no way. In the end, Jerry’s court bid was unsuccessful. According to Mike and Kathy, Jerry began to harass them with phone calls in the middle of the night. Undeterred, Mike, Kathy, and Joey moved to Florida in June 1990.
By then, Kathy was pregnant again. Joey appeared to be thriving in Florida. Then, just two months after the move, she received a surprise phone call from Jerry. He announced that he was relocating to Florida. At first, she was a bit leery about it. They had just escaped his badgering, harassment, and the court case, and they were happy to get away from it. On the other hand, they were hoping that it would be a positive thing for Joey.
Jerry arrived in Orlando on October 4, 1990. He rented an apartment just two miles from Mike and Kathy’s house. He told them that he had accepted his loss in court, and was just going to make do with the situation. They were happy because it seemed like things were going to work out for everyone. They let Jerry have Joey for long periods of time; they did not put any restrictions on his visits.
On Friday, November 30, 1990, Jerry picked up Joey after school for his regular weekend visit. Later, some teachers and parents would remember that Jerry’s pickup truck was full of household items. The following Sunday, he did not bring Joey home. The two of them had vanished. Kathy was, of course, devastated that Joey had been abducted. She always had it in the back of her mind that it could happen, but she never really thought that it would.
Five months after Joey and Jerry disappeared, a missing children’s agency in Seattle received an anonymous call. The caller claimed to be a friend of Jerry’s. However, the agency suspected that it was Jerry himself who made the call. He said that Joey was okay and that he was sorry that things happened the way they did. He then said that they were going to California the next day. When the agency employee asked for more information, he became belligerent, saying that he “was tired of fathers getting the short end of the stick in these situations”. He also said that Kathy should not have taken Joey to Florida in the first place. Police were unable to determine exactly where the call was placed from; however, they believe it occurred on the West Coast. They also believe that Jerry has no intention of returning Joey to Kathy.
At Christmas and on Joey’s sixth birthday, Kathy and Mike wrapped presents and put them in Joey’s room. Although there have been no leads since the Seattle phone call, they hope that Joey will soon be back home. Kathy says that what she has gone through is a mother’s worst nightmare, not knowing where her child is and if he is okay. Every day, she helps children in the recovery room around his age; she wonders if he is going through the same thing.
The State of Florida has issued a warrant for Jerry’s arrest on charges of interfering with parental custody. The authorities believe he is most likely to be in New York or the West Coast.
- This case first aired on the December 4, 1991 episode; it was updated on the February 19, 1992 episode.
- It was excluded from the FilmRise release of the Robert Stack episodes.
Results: Captured. On December 3, 1991, before Joey’s story even aired, Jerry was arrested in Socorro, New Mexico. Viewers had recognized Jerry’s photograph on a promotional announcement for “Unsolved Mysteries”. One viewer told authorities where Jerry and Joey were living and that they were using the names "Jerry and Mark Staggert". When authorities arrived at their home, they found Jerry packing his belongings, as he had also seen the promo. He told police that he was tired of running and glad that it was over. Joey was immediately placed in protective custody and Kathy was informed that he had been found safe.
Joey was reunited with Kathy, Mike, and his younger sister Elizabeth the next day. Jerry was returned to Florida to face child abduction charges. He was sentenced to three years in prison.