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Florida man allegedly killed stepdaughter’s ex in front of victim’s 4-year-old just hours after he was awarded split custody: Police

Jason L. Curtis and Rachel Moore (Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office)

Jason L. Curtis and Rachel Moore (Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office)

A 24-year-old Florida man in the midst of a bitter custody dispute with his ex was found shot dead at his apartment in front of his 4-year-old daughter last week, police said.

The child’s mother, 25-year-old Rachel Moore, and Moore’s stepfather, 53-year-old Jason L. Curtis, were both arrested this week and charged in connection with the cold-blooded killing of 24-year-old Colby Vinson, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

Curtis is facing one count of first-degree premeditated murder while Moore has been charged with tampering with evidence and accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

“I will say this about Mr. Curtis though, what a human piece of trash. I mean, to shoot somebody with their 4-year-old child right there,” Santa Rosa County Sheriff Robert Johnson said during a Monday news conference. “I mean, I get up here ad nauseam and tell you about how I’m shocked about how people treat other people, this just goes beyond that. It’s horrible.”

Deputies on the night of March 19 responded to a reported shooting at an apartment complex located in the 7700 block of Navarre Parkway in Navarre, about 170 miles west of Tallahassee. Upon arriving at the scene, first responders found Vinson lying on his back on the concrete just outside of his front door. He appeared to have suffered a gunshot wound to the face and was pronounced dead on the scene.

Sheriff Johnson said that when deputies located Vinson’s body, his 4-year-old daughter was beside him. The child was not harmed.

Investigators first made contact with a woman identified as Moore’s godmother. She explained that Moore was the mother of Vinson’s child and the two had been in an acrimonious custody battle that recently resulted in Vinson being granted split custody of the child. In fact, Moore’s godmother told detectives that the day he was killed was the first time “in approximately one year that Vinson was able to see [his daughter] and have her sleep at his residence,” deputies wrote in a probable cause affidavit.

Detectives with the Major Crimes Unit interviewed Moore, who allegedly told them that after losing the custody dispute with Vinson, she had an ominous conversation with Curtis, whom she referred to as “Booger.”

Moore allegedly said that when she told Curtis about the outcome of the court hearing, “he sent her pictures of knives/guns through Facebook Messenger,” according to the affidavit.

“Rachel [Moore] thanked [Curtis] for making her feel better, and later would delete her Facebook Messenger app because it looked bad having this conversation with him,” the document states. “Last night (3/19/2023) [Curtis] called [Moore] at approximately 10 p.m. and stated she did not have to worry about it, everything was fine, he had to go, and he had to put his ‘ass’ in the wind.”

Moore said that when she spoke to Curtis he sounded “excited,” and she promised that she “would pay him $50 in gas.” She allegedly told police that she knew the situation “looks bad for her,” but said she did not think Curtis would actually harm Vinson.

Investigators tracked Curtis’ vehicle and located him in Alabama where he was arrested. Sheriff Johnson said that when investigators searched the vehicle, officers located what they believe to be the murder weapon as well as a piece of paper with Vinson’s physical description and addresses for his home and work.

Authorities emphasized that the investigation into Vinson’s death is ongoing and more charges and arrests are still likely.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.