Murder suspect details evening; Caregiver charged in Lake Frederick woman’s death

The Warren Sentinel

WINCHESTER — In a 14-page note written by accused murderer Charlene Moss-Hopkins on the night authorities believe she killed 85-year-old Peg Sinclair, Moss-Hopkins details to Sinclair's daughter the lengths she claims to have taken cleaning up bed clothes, rugs and floors soiled while the elderly woman was ill.

Moss-Hopkins, 56, who had worked as Sinclair's caregiver for about a year, was indicted Oct. 6 by the Frederick County Grand Jury on charges of first-degree murder, willfully defiling a dead body and concealing a dead body.

Moss-Hopkins, of Berryville, was arrested June 21 after leading authorities to a gravel road in Romney, W.Va., where Sinclair's charred and dismembered remains were recovered. The discovery followed incriminating statements Moss-Hopkins made about events leading up to Sinclair's disappearance from her Lake Frederick-area home, which was reported June 18.

At a Sept. 30 preliminary hearing in Frederick County court, Sinclair's daughter testified she woke up in the middle of the night and found Moss-Hopkins' note in the kitchen.

"Lisa, your mom had a very rough night," it began.

It went on to describe Sinclair's alleged illness in great detail, including how she "dripped diarrhea from her room to the bathroom," which Moss-Hopkins said she cleaned up.

"Then she (Sinclair) was peeling an apple later and cut two fingers," the note read. "She dripped blood from [the] kitchen to the laundry room to show me, and slung it everywhere when I tried to see the cuts. ... She dripped blood from the laundry room to her room and bathroom. ... I cleaned all of that up the best I could. ... Because of my headache and dizziness, my sight was blurry, so I hope I got it all cleaned up."

Sinclair's daughter testified how Moss-Hopkins had complained of dizziness that night, and when she woke up and found the note, she sent Moss-Hopkins a text message thanking her for all of her hard work, particularly while she wasn't feeling well.

In her note, Moss-Hopkins claimed Sinclair insisted that she take all the soiled bed linens to a dry cleaner.

"She said you wouldn't want all the poop in your washer," Moss-Hopkins wrote, ending the sentence by drawing a happy face.

"I didn't want to wake you because I knew you were exhausted," she wrote.

Moss-Hopkins wrote that her cleaning efforts continued to the garage and the laundry room, where she claimed to have used bleach and water.

She closed the note with "See ya soon!" followed by another happy face.

When questioned by investigators June 18 — shortly after Sinclair was reported missing by her daughter — Moss-Hopkins again insisted Sinclair had been ill, but offered an odd account of an early morning trip to West Virginia after picking up a woman hitchhiker and her daughter.

After dropping off the pair, Moss-Hopkins said a man offered to take the soiled linens as a thank you for giving them a ride.

But when Frederick County Sheriff's Office investigators A.J. Hipple and C.T. Streit asked Moss-Hopkins on June 21 to retrace her steps that night, what ensued was a nearly 10-hour car ride that led them to locations as far away as Oakland, Md. Hipple testified Sept. 30 that Moss-Hopkins appeared confused during the ride.

"I told her, 'Peg needs to come home,'" Hipple testified. The comments, she said, finally broke Moss-Hopkins' silence.

Moss-Hopkins eventually led them to Sinclair's remains, but she never explained exactly how Sinclair died, instead insinuating she may have hit her with a hammer and later dismembered her body, Hipple said.

"She said, 'I probably did it when the diarrhea happened. All I can figure is that I had some kind of a breakdown,'" Hipple testified.

Hipple said Moss-Hopkins broke into tears and asked the investigators to "shoot her in the head."

"I'll tell you where she is if you shoot me in the head," Moss-Hopkins reportedly said. "It's been tearing me up what I did to her body to get her in my car."

Investigator Todd Swartz testified that at least two burn pits were found near Sinclair's remains, along with a pair of bolt cutters and a hammer.

Crime scene photos — including those of Sinclair's body sealed at the request of Frederick County Commonwealth's Attorney Ross Spicer — also include a hacksaw that appeared to be covered in soot. The photo of the hammer indicated that the toolís handle may have been burned away, leaving just its head.

Moss-Hopkins is being held without bond at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center and is next scheduled to appear in Frederick County Circuit Court on Jan. 5, according to court records.

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