On a frigid night in January, 1979, Marcia Moore, 51-year-old mystic, author of nine books on yoga, astrology and regression to previous lifetimes, vanished from the face of the earth (Maclean’s, April 2, 1979). Not a trace could be found. All her belongings, including warm clothing, were in their usual places in her home in Alderwood Manor, Wash., just south of Vancouver. A blitz by bloodhounds and helicopters of a nearby forest where she liked to walk and wider searches yielded nothing. Her husband, Dr. Howard Altonian, an anesthetist, was convinced that constant use of the anesthetic drug Ketamine had stunned her into amnesia. Mystics suggested she had reached such a high state of consciousness that she dematerialized. It is now clear that her fate was far more gruesome, though the details are no less of a mystery. Two months ago her skull was found, strangely enough in the forest that was so well scoured two years before.
Snohomish County detectives, as baffled as ever, still can’t establish if she died from exposure or foul play. Her husband, initially a prime suspect himself until he passed a lie detector test, now accepts the theory of death from exposure. For 18 months after her death he searched and mourned on a heroic scale, even taking Ketamine in an attempt to reach her telepathically. Detectives went along with every clue he supplied, however bizarre. At one point, they gathered at an abandoned farm and crawled through grease traps, chicken coops and cesspools. Dr. Altonian carried a syringe and adrenaline to revive her. He tried, unsuccessfully, to carry on his wife’s work, but subsequently returned to medicine. Although Moore was the daughter of the multimillionaire founder of the Sheraton hotel chain, she walked away from several fortunes in mansions, royalties and settlements from three marriages, and left little inheritance. Says Dr. Altonian abruptly: “It’s all in the past. I have a new life now.”
Marcia’s brother, Robin Moore, author of The Green Berets and The French Connection, is less inclined to forget. Detectives favor the possibility that animals dragged her head from her body, but Moore sees the separated head as the work of a satanic cult which ceremonially beheads its human sacrifices. Says Moore emphatically: “I don’t believe my sister died a natural death.” Moore has enlisted the support of Hans Holzer, a parapsychologist and author of Murder in Amityville, who intends to “psychometrize” Marcia’s personal belongings. The theory of psychometry, which Holzer pioneered in 1967, is that personal artifacts have, and give, memories which could contain important clues. Says Holzer: “I’ve been called in on murder cases before and know that by and large police departments have no imagination. There are overtones of a pagan cult involvement. Having known Marcia, and her somewhat uncritical involvement with people, there may be something to it.”
Other friends are highly skeptical. Says Doug Brown, who runs Phoenix Metaphysical Books in Surrey, B.C.: “Satanism is 99.9 per cent Hollywood. People into mysticism are using it as a tool for understanding, not murder. There’s a possibility that some maniac murdered Marcia, but I’m sure it isn’t witchcraft.” At this stage, perhaps only the dead woman can ever reveal the truth. Those who know Marcia know that if it’s possible she will.
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