Salt Lake City Weekly/Salt Lake Tribune
July 14, 1997/
April 30, 2000

Added May 3, 2000

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Salt Lake City Weekly Article

I have found several news stories online about someone named Michael Patrick Moore who had a strange and unusual Tori connection. Michael Patrick Moore was an inmate serving two consecutive life sentences at Utah State Prison for some murders that took place in 1982. The inmate worked with computers at the prison and wrote programs for them, including those at Utah Correctional Industries (UCI), where he worked. The first time he is mentioned in connection with Tori is in the July 14, 1997 edition of the Salt Lake City Weekly. Thanks to Doug Smeath who actually found this article for me.

    Prison Sentence: Life Without the Web

    By Christopher Smart

    July 14, 1997: A Utah prison inmate has been banned for life from computers after allegedly going on-line to send complimentary, if off-color, e-mail to female rock star Tori Amos.

    The inmate, Michael Patrick Moore, says he is not guilty of surfing the web or e-mailing the rock goddess. Further, the inmate argues there is no proof to link him to the suspect electronic communication.

    Moore says he is being treated unfairly. He contends that since computers can be found in virtually all buildings at the Utah State Prison, that he is being denied church services, as well as dental and medical services, among other things.

    Corrections officials deny that Moore has been banned from religious and medical services but say the inmate has lost his job and other privileges that involve the use of computers and is not allowed to be in the vicinity of computers.

    The inmate worked with computers at the prison and wrote programs for them, including those at Utah Correctional Industries (UCI), where he worked. Moore is known as a model inmate who is very intelligent and good with computers, officials say. The inmate, who is serving two sentences of five-years-to-life for the 1982 murders of two men at Log Haven restaurant in Millcreek Canyon, has filed a formal grievance with the administration of the Utah Department of Corrections.

    In the document, obtained by City Weekly, Moore argues that he was falsely accused of setting up a web page to defraud Internet users of money and set up secret bank accounts.

    A full investigation yielded no proof of the allegations, according to Moore's grievance. However, when it was discovered that Tori Amos had received e-mail from the prison, Moore became a suspect because, said one source, Moore is the only one believed to be smart enough to get on the web.

    Utah prison inmates have been banned from surfing the net for some time now, since inmate Rubin Ross established a web page to attract unsuspecting women, corrections officials said. The web is perfect for inmates to set up all sorts of scams, prison officials say.

    But Moore says he had no access to the web. "The informants' stories concerning me were not only fabricated, they were physically impossible from a technical standpoint. Several months before, Department of Corrections had done a security audit of inmate access through computers at UCI, firewalling out Internet and e-mail ..." Moore stated.

    A source, who wished to remain unnamed, said inmates apparently accessed the web through terminals of prison staffers who left computers unguarded. One inmate really wanted to communicate with Tori Amos. "He apparently just went bananas," the source said.

    Beyond the fact that he's innocent of e-mailing Amos, Moore says the punishment a lifetime ban from computers is too harsh. "I've tried everything to deal with this: I've written to the department. I've written to Investigations ... I might understand it if the restrictions against me were simply temporary security restrictions. However, these are broad sanctions with lifetime imposition and, in practicality, seem punitive ..."

    And Moore continues to insist that he is banned from LDS Church services. "I was specifically banned from LDS Church services in the Oquirrh Chapel. I had to forfeit my 12-year participation LDS Family Home Evening. I was specifically prohibited from LDS History and Institute studies."

    Moore goes again before the Utah Board of Pardons in 2002, some 20 years after the murders of Jordan Rassmussen and Buddy Booth at Log Haven. Interestingly, the Rassmussen family has forgiven Moore. The inmate has apologized for the killings and keeps in communication with the family. In the past, Moore sent them any money he earned at his prison job.

Salt Lake Tribune Article

Moore was somehow exonerated and he once again began using computers. His name appeared again in the April 30, 2000 edition of the Salt Lake Tribune shortly after he hung himself in his cell. This article mentions the 1997 Tori incident, as well as the mysterious circumstances of his death. I do not know any details about these emails to Tori (They could have simply been to her record company.) I also don't know if they ever decided who did sent her the emails. But it was odd to see Tori's name in conjunction with these news events. Here is the Salt Lake Tribune article:

    Death of Model Inmate Still a Mystery to Many


    Every morning, except an occasional Sunday, Michael Patrick Moore woke with the sun, dressed, ate breakfast and strolled to his office, a mid-level manager's outpost for a computer programmer.

    It was here, behind an oak desk, that Moore spent his days diagramming the central nervous system for Utah Correctional Industries, a $12 million-a-year business. Like peers of his baby boom generation, the 43-year-old Moore dabbled as a day-trader in the stock market, earning at times up to $1,000 monthly.

    He was a Phi Beta Kappa college graduate with two degrees and a scholarship to a prestigious master's degree program at Utah State University. He spoke five languages, donated money to charity, helped a single mother of two pay for school and financed another friend's Mormon mission to Hong Kong.

    Moore lived the American dream except for one minor inconvenience: he was an inmate serving two consecutive life sentences at Utah State Prison for the notorious 1982 Log Haven restaurant murders.

    Moore's quiet life behind bars disintegrated this month when officials discovered questionable files on his prison-issue computer. Before the smallish, soft-spoken convict could explain, he was handcuffed and escorted to a maximum-security cell. Four days later, model inmate No. 15995 apparently hanged himself with a bedsheet.

    The strange case of Moore has spawned two investigations at the prison, one targeting computer access by inmates, another probing Moore's death. It also has sparked a philosophical debate within Utah's prison system, splitting those who believe the state's penal institutions should lean heavier toward rehabilitation from those who believe efforts to remold miscreants into mainstream society should be severely mitigated by security concerns.

    "This administration believes in a balanced approach, but when it comes to dealing with security matters, we are not going to do anything to compromise our institutions or the security of the public," says Pete Haun, a former federal probation officer who took the helm of Corrections three years ago with a mandate to reform. "It can't be any other way."

    But it appears Moore may have found another way. With his victims' families and prison bosses leading the cheers for him, the question begs: Was he a miraculous example of a fully rehabilitated double-murderer, or merely a master manipulator?

    Haun inherited Michael Moore from two Corrections administrators known for stern regimes. Yet inmate Moore came into unprecedented power under those men, Gary DeLand and O. Lane McCotter. He helped transform the prison's modest inmate labor program -- cons punching out license plates and growing shrubs -- into one of the nation's leading prison employers. Moore designed computer software programs that ran the prison's print shop and compiled the financial data for all of the 28 ventures within Utah Correctional Industries (UCI).

    "There's no question Mike was important to our operation," says UCI director Dick Clasby. "He was an extremely talented individual, and we try to take advantage of inmates skills when we can. . . . In some ways his skills were better than some staff."

    Indeed, his skills were so valuable that it seems UCI could not run without him.

    In 1997, prison officials investigated allegations Moore had breached the digital firewall intended to prevent inmates from accessing the global Internet and had downloaded data that could aid in an escape. There were also inmate claims Moore was peddling his computer skills to sell cons everything from fake birth certificates and college degrees to the e-mail address of pop singer Tori Amos.

    Moore and three other inmates were immediately removed from UCI. But a short time later, Moore was exonerated and welcomed without sanction back into the program.

    "He had prepared a special program for the prison -- they loved that program," says Earl Evans, a bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a prison volunteer who began counseling Moore in 1982. "But nobody in the prison system had any idea how to work it. So they hired a professional from town, paid him $200-an-hour to show them how to work this program, and they still couldn't figure it out."

    The results of the 1997 internal probe into Moore's computer use are unknown -- chief investigator Theresa M. Sargent died in August 1999. Bruce Bailey, Corrections' director of records, said the prison "had apparently lost the investigation" records.

    Friends suggest the missing records and Moore's death are connected in some sort of conspiracy. They point to the 2004 parole date he won at a parole hearing a year ago. The scheduled release was unprecedented for a double-murderer barely saved from the death penalty by the indecision of one juror.

    "A man isn't going to do 18 years in prison to get a parole date and then kill himself before they even prove he was involved in a security breach," says Becky Colonna, the wife of one of Moore's former cellmates.

    "It doesn't sound right to me," says his father, Edward Moore. "He had everything going for him. He must have found out something on that computer,

    Moore was born in Salt Lake City, an only child, the center of his father's attention and occasional scorn. In the mid-1960s, the family's home burned down in a fire that remains unexplained.

    "I think he started that, but I don't know for sure," says Edward Moore, who remarried after Michael's mother Roseanne died. "That boy never raised a hand to me or his mother. He never used four-letter words."

    Schoolmates called Moore "the shadow."

    "He was shy," says Terri Maynard, a classmate of Moore's at St. Vincent's elementary and Judge Memorial High School in Salt Lake City. "He was with everybody. He was with nobody. . . . Somehow he was just always there, and yet, his presence never was."

    Moore always wore suits to school, never played sports and rarely smiled, friends recall. On Sundays, the Moore family arrived first at their Catholic church and always sat in the front pew.

    Moore seemed to find his balance at Log Haven Restaurant, a trendy Mill Creek Canyon eatery where at the age of 18 he landed a job as a groundskeeper. By the time he was 25, Moore was general manager and had overseen construction of a wedding gazebo and a restaurant waterfall across a 300-foot vertical cliff.

    But in 1982, Moore was booted from college for poor grades. Log Haven was in the midst of a corporate split. Convinced that Log Haven auditor and controller Jordan Rasmussen was embezzling and had been hired to replace him, he asked to meet Rasmussen in Millcreek Canyon on March 5, 1982. After screaming at Rasmussen as the two drove up the canyon to the restaurant, he pulled a gun and shot the father of three twice.

    While Moore attempted to dump the body in a sewer system, a laundry delivery driver, Buddy Booth, arrived. Trying to flee, he also was shot twice by Moore. Medical examiners later testified both men did not die until Moore administered a final shot to the head of each victim.

    A year after Moore received a double life sentence, he made his initial appearance before Utah's Board of Pardons and Parole. On audio tapes recorded during the Sept. 14, 1983, hearing, Moore sounded subdued.

    "I'm certain you are going to give me a great deal of time -- I expect that and it's right and just," Moore told the board. "I would hope I could serve my time in some way that could be productive not only to you but to me and to society as a whole."

    In the harshest terms Utah law allowed, board members delayed for 10 years any consideration of parole. One board member admonished Moore to "do what you can to keep your life together. Finish your education if possible."

    Barley audible, Moore said: "That's not possible here."

    In prison, Moore would find most anything was possible. He began working as a janitor in the prison's print shop -- an operation he would one day control. Though Catholic, Moore started attending LDS church services.

    Most people lost track of Moore, including John T. Nielsen, chief deputy prosecutor at Moore's murder trial and an advocate for the death penalty at Moore's sentencing.

    "I felt the nature of the crime deserved it," Nielsen says today. "I harbored that for a number of years."

    About eight years ago, on a visit to the Point of the Mountain prison, Nielsen spotted Moore's familiar face staring into a computer screen. The two spoke for the first time in a decade. Nielsen would become one of Moore's champions.

    "I was personally convinced that Michael Moore had had a total rehabilitation," he says. "Whatever it was that motivated what happened 18 years ago was purged and he was trying to make amends for what he had done."

    Nielsen wasn't alone. Scores of prison employees and former co-workers at Log Haven argued for Moore's early release. Rasmussen's and Booth's family also supported parole for Moore, who had voluntarily given more than $28,000 to the family of Jordan Rasmussen, who used the money to pay for a relative's Mormon mission, and to Carla Doty -- Buddy Booth's widow -- who used the money for school and to pay bills.

    It was Nielsen, though, an influential attorney and community leader, who convinced Michael Sibbett, chairman of the Board of Pardons, to conduct a parole hearing on Feb. 2, 1999, three years ahead of schedule.

    At the time, Moore was hoping to immediately leave prison so he could enroll in an honors graduate program. Admission hinged on Moore's early release.

    During the 1999 parole hearing, Sibbett read one psychological report that called Moore "a chameleon, capable of adapting to the present situation to get what he wants."

    There were other hurdles: Buddy Booth's father, Glen Ruben Booth, demanded Moore's lifetime commitment and questioned Moore's religious awakening. "I'm a high priest in the LDS Church and I am offended that Moore used his religious conversion to put himself in a better light," Glen Booth wrote in a 1995 letter to the parole board. "The Catholic Church does not condone killing and neither does the Mormon Church."

    Two years later, Glen Booth died in a car wreck at age 70. Between the time of Glen Booth's death and the 1999 parole hearing, Moore recommitted himself to reconciliation with the Booth family, sending $10,000 in checks to Carla Doty.

    At the 1999 hearing, Doty, who once said she opposed Moore's release, revealed a dramatic shift.

    "Every time I read his letters, uh shoot, this is hard," she testified. "I feel very confident about the change in him. . . . If Mike is released, he will continue to help others get over whatever hurdle they wish to get over."

    At the parole hearing, Moore joined in the accolades.

    "What I have done in here I have done in the face of utter hopelessness, negativism, much skepticism on the part of staff," he said. "The victims families; their forgiveness has been the sweetest, warmest feeling I've ever known. For the first time in my life, it was quiet inside."

    The board was moved, but clearly uncertain.

    "That you are a model inmate is probably an understatement," Sibbett told Moore. "The Board is aware of your extreme exemplary performance here in prison and . . . that is one of the reasons we are talking today, because the crime dictated that we shouldn't even be discussing this until 2002."

    Eventually, the board voted to delay Moore's release until 2004, a move that disappointed Nielsen.

    "Here's one inmate where the notion of rehabilitation had worked -- a model inmate, the kind of inmate Corrections directors dream of," he says.

    LDS bishop Evans agrees. "That man did everything I can think of to make things right, as much as you can. You can't replace the lives."

    Even normally cynical inmates were surprised. They believed Moore would win an almost immediate release.

    "When you first get in here, you are so scared," says Jack Colonna, a parolee who did 5 years with Moore. "Mike was the first person to come around, show you the ropes. If anyone deserved to get out of there, it was Mike."

    Moore returned to normal duties after the parole hearing, including an assignment to modify a financial software program called Delphi that controlled inventory, shipping and billing for all of UCI's businesses.

    On April 9 during a routine check, when Moore was likely in church, a newly hired computer auditor discovered what he thought was a file on Moore's UCI computer that contained a digital copy of the inmate's confidential incarceration data. The audit spurred a prisonwide computer investigation and fueled reports that inmates may have broken into the state's computer network.

    Although he had not been charged with a crime, Moore was immediately relieved of his job at UCI and transferred from a medium-security dorm to the maximum-security unit where most of Utah's violent murderers serve their time.

    Four days later, on April 13, investigators believe Moore hung himself. According to sheriff's investigators, Moore's hands were free as he swung and he could have stepped onto a mattress and saved his life at any time.

    On April 18, a state Department of Corrections van carried half a dozen prison staff to a graveside service at Elysian Burial Gardens under drizzly skies.

    "I just kept thinking, ordinarily a man in his early 40s, a young man, would have a packed funeral," says Nielsen. "But there weren't that many people there. Here was a coffin sitting alone in the rain -- it was just a microcosm of this whole tragic situation."

    Nielsen believes Moore committed suicide because he finally understood his plight. The computer investigation would no doubt lead to an indefinite parole delay, a long-term banishment from UCI and ultimately, loss of status among fellow prisoners.

    "I guess he could see the writing on the wall," Nielsen says. "It's taken three lives now. The whole thing is just a terrible human tragedy."

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