Real Name: Rae Ann Mossor
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Salem, Virginia
Date: February 4, 1986
Details: On the evening of February 4, 1986, twenty-one-year-old Rae Ann Mossor arrived at the home of her ex-boyfriend and after a failed reconciliation attempt, and according to his account, she threatened to kill herself. According to him, when he refused, she took a rifle and took her own life. Three witnesses confirmed that she had threatened to kill herself. The police arrived at the scene at 7:57 pm and found Rae Ann dead with one shotgun wound to her chest. The shotgun was found laying on the trunk of her ex-boyfriend's car. They found no evidence of foul play and her death was ruled a suicide. However, Rae Ann's parents believe they found considerable evidence proving that she was murdered and pursued a police investigation.
Rae Ann was a waitress who lived with her parents. She had recently taken a test to enlist in the navy, where she hoped to study radiology. Her parents did not believe that she would commit suicide with such a bright future ahead. When looking at police reports, they found evidence that disputed the official ruling. Rae Ann's car was parked directly across the street from where she died. The driver's door was wide open, music was blaring from the car stereo, and her keys were still in the ignition. It appeared that she had left her car in a hurry. Also, her parents believed that if she had shot herself with the shotgun, then it would have fallen next to her body, instead of on the car trunk.
Rae Ann's arm measured twenty-nine inches. However, the distance from the trigger to the muzzle was thirty-six and a half inches. Her parents did a test with a broomstick in place of the gun. Rae Ann's mother (whose arm length is about the same as her daughter's) was unable to reach the point where the trigger would have been.
On the night of the shooting, her parents were told that an autopsy would be performed soon. However, two weeks later, they discovered that the autopsy had never taken place. In fact, it was never even requested. They requested for her body to be exhumed and an autopsy finally was done.
According to the autopsy, Rae Ann was killed by a contact wound to the chest. This meant that the muzzle of the gun was touching her skin. Powder burns were found on the left wrist. The medical examiner still ruled that it was a suicide. Rae Ann's parents decided to contact Dr. John Butts, the chief medical examiner for the state of North Carolina. His conclusions were much different than those of the original medical examiner's.
Dr. Butts determined that the muzzle of the weapon was actually several feet from her body at the time of the shooting. The powder burns on the hand suggested, to him, that she was trying to grab the muzzle of the gun. The original medical examiner decided to change the cause of death from "suicide" to "pending".
Mrs. Mossor appeared before a grand jury in an attempt to get an inquiry in Rae Ann's death. However, they could only change the ruling on the case if there was a suspect. So, the inquiry request was denied.
Undeterred, the Mossors contacted Dr. Vincent DiMaio, one of the country's top forensic scientists. After examining the evidence, he felt that the police had bungled the case, ruling suicide too quickly. He showed that it would be impossible for Rae Ann to pull the trigger and still have the gun pointed directly at her chest. Despite the testimony from Dr. DiMaio, the Mossors request for a new investigation was still denied.
The Mossors then contacted a forensic ballistics expert, who looked into the possibility that Rae Ann was shot accidentally when she dropped the gun on the ground or the car. The expert tried the "butt test" which involved him hitting the butt of the shotgun against the ground in an attempt to get it to discharge. However, it never fired, making it unlikely that Rae Ann was shot accidentally.
On November 16, 1988, almost three years after Rae Ann's death, the cause of death was changed from "suicide" to "undetermined". However, to this day, the case remains unsolved and no investigation has been completed.
Suspects: Rae Ann's boyfriend has long been considered a possible suspect in the case. Long-term speculation is that he may be a police informant being sheltered by the police, but this is unconfirmed.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the December 13, 1989 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
The medical examiner and Commonwealth Attorney declined to be interviewed for the segment.
Results: Unsolved. Sadly, Rae Ann's mother Rella passed away in 2015 without any new evidence being found in this case. Her father, siblings, and other relatives are still searching for the truth.