Real Names: Thomas A. Hotard and Audrey Alta Moate
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: LaPlace, Louisiana
Date: November 24, 1956
Date of Birth: November 24, 1925
Marital Status: Divorced
Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blond hair, gray eyes
Details: Forty-six-year-old Thomas Hotard was a Louisiana native who was romantically seeing Audrey Moate, a thirty-one-year-old divorced mother of three from Baton Rouge. They regularly met each other, even though he was married and 15 years older, but on the morning of November 25, 1956, he was discovered dead from a gunshot wound fired at close range through the rear window of his car. No sign of Audrey was found, but evidence at the scene suggested that she had fled the scene as another person in boots came after her.
Thomas worked for a local chemical company, which is where he met Audrey in 1952. They were involved in scouting and often planned scouting trips together. Their romance was a deeply hidden secret. Audrey told her family that she had to work on Saturdays, but in reality, she spent her time with Thomas; he also told his wife the same lie. He was also involved in her social life, but he was introduced as a friend of hers. A few weeks before she vanished, she told her mother that if anything ever happens to her, she should take the kids (meaning her children) and leave the area. She never told her mother why she should do this, however.
On Saturday, November 24, 1954, they met in LaPlace, at around 7:30am, and then drove to their secluded lovers' lane next to Lake Pontchartrain. At 9am, a father and son spotted them there. The next morning, the same father and son discovered Thomas's body.
Investigators determined that Thomas had been shot once in the head with a sixteen gauge shotgun, fired at point blank range through a side window. At first, it was believed that Audrey had killed him in a lovers' quarrel. However, further examination at the scene showed that they had apparently been surprised while together. Audrey's clothes were crumpled on the floor, the keys were in the ignition, and some of her personal items were on the ground next to the car. It appeared that she had tried to flee the scene. Fifty feet away, her bare footprints were found, along with those of boots. Another set of car keys were also found. The footprints ended at a single motorcycle track on a road to the main highway. Her purse was never found.
Later that night, Audrey's car was found abandoned at the restaurant where she had met Thomas the previous day. The keys at the crime scene belonged to her car. However, no other trace of her was found. Then, on December 6th, two weeks after her disappearance, her former mother-in-law received a strange phone call. The caller claimed to be her; she said she was in trouble and needed help. Around the same time, a waitress told police that she had seen a disheveled woman matching Audrey's description at the restaurant. This was the last reported sighting of her.
No new leads surfaced in the case until 1980, when a dying man named Ernest Acosta indicated to his family that his common-law wife, Caroline Schlesser (who died in 1979), killed both Thomas and Audrey, and that he helped dispose of her body. However, his daughter, Marville, suspects that he may have been involved in the murder, not Caroline. A new investigator on the case has searched for Audrey's body without success. As of now, this case remains unsolved, but her daughter, Dekki, hopes that she can find her mother's remains.
Suspects: Authorities first suspected that Audrey had killed Thomas in a lovers' quarrel and then fled. However, this was ruled out based on the evidence left behind at the crime scene.
One suspect in the initial investigation was forty-year-old Edmund Duhe. He shot and wounded a woman in New Orleans during a robbery attempt. The attack occurred close to where Thomas was found murdered. He was linked to the case after a purse was found in his vehicle; the purse matched the description of Audrey's missing purse. After being given a "truth serum", Duhe confessed to killing the couple. He claimed to have buried Audrey's body in a dump. However, her remains were not found in the dump. It is not known if Duhe is still a suspect in the case.
Caroline was named as a possible suspect in the case in 1980. Several months before he died, Ernest told his family that she had committed the murders. They lived on the edge of the swamp, less than a mile from the murder scene. Both had bad reputations; she slept with a gun at all times and he apparently shot at anyone who came too close to the property.
Ernest's daughter, Marville, recalls that Thomas and Audrey had came to the property at least twice and had met with Caroline. Ernest claimed that they knew something about her, but it is unknown what that exactly was. Audrey was also apparently related to her in some way. According to Marville, Ernest was visiting his children on November 24, but that night, Caroline called him and he immediately rushed home. He claimed that she had killed Audrey and Thomas in their home, and that he and a neighbor had taken Thomas' body back to the murder scene. They then tied Audrey's to an old Civil War cannon and dumped it in a swamp.
Marville, however, was suspicious of Ernest's story, since the evidence showed that Thomas was actually killed in his car. She, along with the new investigator on the case, believe that Ernest may have actually been the killer. It is suspected that he was watching them making love on the shoreline and decided to attack them and sexually assault Audrey. It is believed that he shot Thomas and then chased after Audrey when she tried to escape.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the March 15, 1989 episode.
The "Bio" section has details only for Audrey, as Thomas's body was already found.
Results: Unresolved. In February 2011, remains were found that were suspected to be Audrey's. Dekki Moate gave police DNA in hopes of identifying the remains especially because she has life-threatening cancer. However, the DNA test results have yet to be revealed. Sadly, Dekki Moate passed away on January 21, 2019.
- Audrey Moate on The Charley Project
- Audrey Moate on The Doe Network
- Audrey Moate on Louisiana Repository for Unidentified and Missing People
- Audrey Moate on Find a Grave
- Suspect Ordered Held For Quizzing
- Close Probe Of Murdered Safety Engineer
- LaPlace Slaying Suspect Is Freed
- No New Evidence In Hotard Case, Sheriff Reports
- Lie Tests In 1956 Slaying
- Cancel Hunt For Body
- Montana Woman Hopes DNA Will Crack "Unsolved Mysteries" Cold Case
- Hotard and Moate on Unresolved Mysteries Reddit
- Hotard and Moate on Websleuths Discussion