Husband still considered suspect 20 years after Galveston woman vanished

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- On Galveston Island, far from the bustling Strand and flip-flop wearing tourists, is Channelview Drive. The road winds along the bay. There's a scrap yard, a seafood stop, and massive cranes from an offshore transport company in the distance. There are few homes here.

In April 1999, Hope Ann Moore lived on quiet Channelview Drive in a house on stilts. The 32-year-old mother lived with her common-law husband, Clint Kent. They had a son and had been together four years.

Hope had a wild past. She had trouble with drugs, drinking, and partying. But she was working hard to change.

Hope had a steady job at the Bob Pagan Ford dealership on the island. She passed every drug test during the eight months she was employed. In April 1999, Hope had just gotten a raise from $6.00 to $6.50 an hour.

"She was a really good worker," James Cabarubio said. "I mean, she did everything we asked her to do. There wasn't no complaining, no complaints at all."

Cabarubio was Hope's former boss. He was also the last person to see her in public.

On Monday, April 26, 1999, Hope didn't show up for work. She had never done that before. Cabarubio thought it was odd, but not strange enough to call police. It's what happened the next day that made him pick up the phone.

"Clint showed up and he tells me that she just won't be back. Here's her keys. And I thought it was weird. So, I just thought about it for a while and I decided I better call and tell somebody," Cabarubio said.

Hope's boss waited one more day. Still, no Hope. He called police.

"She's not coming back. Now that, I mean, that should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. She's not coming back," said Fred Paige, referring to what Clint allegedly said.

Paige is a retired detective. He worked at the Galveston Police Department.

In 1999, Hope's story wasn't front page news. A missing woman with a messy past didn't get a lot of sympathy. The case went cold.

"No one's as pure as the driven snow and Hope wasn't. But she was a true victim in this," Paige told Eyewitness News.

In 2008, Paige started looking into Hope's case. The more the detective dug, the more he believed Hope wasn't just missing.

"If anybody knows what happened to Hope Ann Moore, it's Clint. If there's the best suspect in this case, it's Scotty. No doubt about it," Paige said.

Scotty Kent is Clint's older brother. In 2009, Scotty agreed to talk to Paige. ABC13 Eyewitness News obtained the never-before-seen DVDs of the interview at the Galveston Police Department. Throughout this story, we'll share portions of that nearly 90-minute interview.

PAIGE: "In the week leading up to before (Hope) went missing, she left work twice saying she was having problems at home with her husband."
SCOTTY: "See, I never see her and Clint fight."

Cabarubio remembers that time differently.

"She told me she was having problems at home and that she was having problems with the man that she was with," he said.

Scotty was living with Hope and Clint in that house on Channelview Drive when she vanished. Scotty told Paige that on Saturday, April 24, 1999, Hope left the house mad. She took her checkbook. She got into a truck with a man Scotty didn't recognize.

PAIGE: "How come you guys didn't call the police?"
SCOTTY: "We didn't think she was gone. We just thought she was on another one of her drug trips. It ain't the first time she's disappeared."

Eight days after Scotty last saw Hope, he pawned two ladies' gold rings at an Easy Cash in Galveston. Nine years later, Paige tracked down the receipts that still existed in the pawn shop's computer system.

Paige also investigated a check made out to Scotty from Hope, dated the day before he claims she disappeared. The amount was for $345.52. It's the exact amount of money--to the penny-- in Hope's bank account.

Handwriting tests from 1999 determined Hope's signature may have been forged.

Paige asked Clint about that check in a separate interview, conducted a few weeks before Scotty's interview.

PAIGE: "Why would she close out her account? And give the money to Scotty Kent?"
CLINT: "I don't know. That's what I'm saying."
PAIGE: "Did you ever ask Scotty?"
CLINT: "I never even knew about this. So, I don't know. I don't know if she owed him money, I don't know if she borrowed money--"
PAIGE: "Doesn't--I mean--isn't that kind of bizarre?"
CLINT: "Yeah."

When Hope went missing, Clint was visiting his parents in Buffalo, Texas. Before he left Galveston, Clint admitted he tampered with Hope's truck. He didn't want her leaving home.

CLINT: "Yeah, she was getting back into drugs."
PAIGE: "What do you mean she couldn't take (her truck)?"
CLINT: "Because I took the fuse out so she couldn't take it. She tried to take my other truck too."

"(Scotty and Clint) spared no opportunity to trash Hope's character," Paige told ABC13, reflecting upon those interviews nearly a decade ago.

Back to Paige's interview with Scotty:

PAIGE: "You think your brother killed her?"
SCOTTY: "Hell no, I know better. There is no way. He's got a gentle heart just like me. I know. No. There's no way."
SCOTTY: "Clint, let me put it this way, my little brother, he's got the heart of the child and he'd never done anything like that."
PAIGE: "But you know, I mean, he leaves town one day, she goes up and all of a sudden she disappears."
SCOTTY: "He left before I did and I left and--"
PAIGE: "She has not cashed a check. She has not ever gotten a job. She has never been seen or got a ticket or nothing after you last saw her."
SCOTTY: "Yessir. I mean, when you told me that on the phone too and--"
PAIGE: "Man, she just has dropped off the face of the earth or she was killed."
SCOTTY: "I don't think she was killed. I think she's just hiding somewhere."
PAIGE: "I think she's dead."
SCOTTY: "I really don't to be honest with you."
PAIGE: "You think she's hiding?"
SCOTTY: "I don't know if she's hiding. But it's hard to say with her."

"This is disturbing when you look at this stuff," Paige told ABC13's Courtney Fischer. "But it all goes back to, what can you prove? We've got to find her body. That's the starting point. And we never have."

"I want to know what happened for her sake, for my family's sake," Mike Autrey said.

Autrey is Hope's son from a previous marriage. He was 11 years old when his mother went missing. He wasn't living at home at the time. He says Hope had dropped him off at a boy's home a few weeks before she vanished.

Autrey says Clint told him Hope walked out on the family.

"I remember feeling angry. I guess, kind of hurt. But maybe at the same time, kind of relieved," Autrey said.

Autrey is honest about his childhood. He says Hope wasn't the best mom, that she was abusive at times and Clint watched out for him.

"She was an angry person," Autrey said. "But, no matter what she did to me, she's still my mom and she deserves... she deserves this."

She deserves not to be forgotten. That's what Detective Michelle Sollenberger thinks. Sollenberger is the third investigator at the Galveston Police Department to work on Hope's case.

"This is probably the most difficult case that I've ever encountered because I have a gut feeling leading me in one direction, but I just can't prove it yet," Sollenberger said. "I really strongly believe that Hope was murdered. I believe that there was a cover-up with her live-in boyfriend and his brother. I believe that they lied to the children. I think that they lied to the families and then they went on with their life."

ABC13 made numerous attempts to contact Clint and Scotty Kent. We never heard back from either brother.

"Between her being missing and (Clint) being a suspect, I just, I don't know what to think. It's a lot to deal with and take in," Autrey said.

Towards the end of Paige's interview with Clint, Paige brings up Scotty one last time.

PAIGE: "Have you completely exonerated your brother from having anything to do Hope's ...?"
CLINT: "Yeah, I don't think my brother did anything."
PAIGE: "I guarantee, if you know what happened Hope and you're protecting somebody you love--"
CLINT: "Oh, I'm not!"
PAIGE: "--but hear me out. You know, it's never too late to step forward and do the right thing. It's never too late."

Clint and Paige finish the interview. One of the final questions Paige asks Clint: Will he return to take a lie detector test? Clint says he will. Clint signs a statement. They've talked for close to two hours. Clint never returned to take the test.

At the end of Scotty's interview, Paige asks one last poignant question.

PAIGE: "If you were going to kill, what would you do with her body?"
SCOTTY: "Never even thought about it."
PAIGE: "If you did kill somebody living out there on Channelview, what would you do with the body? Because the whole key to this is finding her body."
SCOTTY: "Right. Like I said, I really don't know. I mean with me, I've never killed anybody before and don't even want to think about it."

It's been nearly two decades since Hope vanished and Autrey still wonders what really happened to his mother.

"Honestly, I'm not quite sure," he said.

Autrey wants closure.

Detective Sollenberger wants to question Clint and Scotty Kent herself.

"I want an opportunity to speak with them, face to face myself, get my own read, get my own perspective and ask them some questions," she said.

If you know anything about what happened to Hope Ann Moore after April 24, 1999, call the Galveston Police Department at 409-765-3702 or Crime Stoppers of Galveston at 409-763-8477.

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