Steve Moore was still a rookie police officer when a patrol sergeant thrust him into his first “real” crime scene on a stormy morning in November 1987.
A man had killed his wife and two children before fatally shooting himself. The slayings remain etched in Moore’s mind, and their gruesome details still reverberate in Little Rock three decades later.
“I was 21 years old and had seen a little bit as a cadet, but nothing like that,” recalled Moore, who joined the Little Police Department in June 1984 and was given the rookie officer title in June 1987.
Moore, now a spokesman for the Police Department, had been patrolling the city’s east side Nov. 16, 1987, when authorities were called to a Victorian-style home on 1820 Main St., just a block east of the Governor’s Mansion.
Attorney Richard Lawrence notified police around 4 a.m. that day that one of his clients, Stephens Inc. futures trader John Markle, had called him with scant details about an emergency. Their call abruptly ended a short time later, Lawrence said.
When Lawrence arrived at Markle’s Main Street residence, he found a light on inside. He then drove to the back of the three-story house and around the block before spotting a police officer. Around 4:15 a.m., Lawrence and an officer found the front door open.
In the first-floor study lay Markle, 45, in a pool of blood, bullet wounds visible on each side of his head. A suicide note with a time of 2:30 a.m. listed on it was found nearby, along with a Colt .38-caliber revolver and a Charter Arms .38-caliber revolver.
Three guns in total were used to carry out the three slayings and suicide, police said. Eighteen firearms were taken in as evidence from the home.
Near Markle was a blood-splattered, full-face rubber Halloween mask that police believe he wore during the killing. Authorities said it had been rolled up as if it had just been removed.
In the second-floor bedroom of Markle’s 13-year-old daughter, Amy, detectives discovered the bodies of the eldest girl and her sister, 9-year-old Suzanne. Each had been shot in the head and chest. Authorities believe the two were in the same room because of severe thunderstorms barrelling through the Little Rock area, knocking out power to some homes and blowing down trees.
The body of Markle’s wife, 45-year-old Christine, was found lying across a waterbed in the couple’s third-floor master suite. She, too, had been shot in the head and chest.
Traces of an antidepressant were found in all of their systems, police said, noting John Markle and his wife also tested positive for marijuana and anti-anxiety medication.
Static still emanated from a downstairs television set, Moore said. The family had reportedly watched Nightmare on Elm Street in the days before. A sense of quiet filled the residence, even with the flurry of detectives combing over rooms inside, Moore remembered.
Spattered blood covered the pink walls of the bedroom where the daughters were found. It was one of the sights that stuck with Moore the most.
He believes neighbors who heard the gunshots likely mistook them for thunder from the storm raging outside, noting that gusty winds and torrential rain made a “bad night” even more somber.
“It wasn’t something I really liked to talk about,” Moore said in a recent interview, his voice softening. “Those little girls, you know. I didn’t have any kids at the time. How could somebody do that to their own children?”