Police allege the mother of a 14-year-old New Jersey girl, whose disappearance drew national attention, brutally abused her for years and forced her to skip school and beg for money on the streets.
The complaint against Jamie Moore details a litany of shocking violence the girl was allegedly forced to endure, leading up to her running away from home and spending a month on the lam.
Police arrested the 39-year-old East Orange mother Friday on two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, as prosecutors cited allegations of abuse and neglect.
Moore's daughter vanished Oct. 14 after heading out to pick up some groceries from a local deli. The 14-year-old had returned home with the groceries but left again to find the family's EBT card she lost along the way. Instead of returning home, she ran away until police in New York City located her safely four weeks later.
Her family reported her missing that same day, with Moore telling police she thought her daughter had run away. Later, after garnering media attention and community support in searching for the girl, they insisted she must have been held against her will. The family also started a GoFundMe to raise funds.
The criminal complaint offers a counter narrative to Moore's public version of events. That day that her daughter left, law enforcement officials allege the mother verbally and physically abused her daughter for losing the EBT card. They said the 14-year-old told investigators she did not return home over fears of additional abuse.
According to the complaint, which describes in brutal detail years of alleged abuse at the hands of Moore, the girl suffered regular violence that left her bruised and scared, all while she was ordered to care for her younger brother. Moore's two children have since been placed into the custody of child protective services.
The 14-year-old told investigators she was forced to care for her 3-year-old brother when he woke in the middle of the night and cook for both of them, or else they wouldn't eat. The complaint also states the mother had her daughter panhandling in the streets, and more abuse would be handed out if a certain amount of money was not brought back. East Orange police say they corroborated the girl's panhandling charge.
Investigators said the girl's forced care for her brother lead to a deteriorating education. Moore forced her daughter to skip virtual schooling to make trips to the store and spend more time watching her brother during the day, according to the complaint. Following the first year of online instruction, the complaint states Moore refused to enroll her daughter for the 2021-22 school year.
Salon owner Grace Olyfveldt said she used to see the girl daily, and could tell something wasn't right at home.
"She had on the same clothes every day...she was always by herself, never saw her with any friends...never accompanied by an adult," said Olyfveldt.
It wasn't immediately clear Monday if Jamie Moore had an attorney.
The first signs of criminality came at a press conference last Friday, the day after the 14-year-old girl was found safely.
Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens III revealed that the girl had in fact run away and, at that point in their investigation, certain leads might "yield some charges." It would only take a few hours before the New Jersey officials announced the arrest of Moore.
Many of the the activists and volunteers who drove efforts to find the teen were happy and relieved that she was safe, but some said they felt deceived after leading searches alongside the now-charged mother.
"We feel like we was shafted, bamboozled, misled," said Tony Olajuwon.
According to Stephens, the 14-year-old had last stayed at a shelter in Brooklyn before she was ultimately located by New York City police in Harlem. The investigators are also looking at the efforts made by the girl to conceal her identity, possibly by cutting her hair, as well as initially denying who she was to officers.
"The young lady appears to have run away and didn't want to make herself known to anyone where she was. She seemed to be more so at-ease where she was," Stephens said.