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Bryant, Moore share details of new crime book

Over 18 years later, Clay Bryant, a homicide detective and published author, can still vividly remember the moment he found out the truth behind Hogansville native Gwendolyn Moore’s fate.

Dr. Kris Sperry, who at that time was Georgia’s chief medical examiner, had Moore’s skeleton stretched across an examination table. There were no bone fractures in her head as the coroner had listed on the death certificate, the ultimate contributor to her death,  and Bryant said he nearly fell to pieces from disappointment.

But then Sperry picked up a single bone fragment, the remains of Gwendolyn’s fractured hyoid bone that indicated that she had been strangled to death.

“He washes off one more piece and then puts it back, and he says ‘this isn’t lobotomy, this is murder,’” Bryant told the group attending his book talk Saturday afternoon at Pretty Good Books in downtown LaGrange. Located in the front row was Gwendolyn’s oldest son, Allen Moore, who had traveled to hear the aftermath of the years of hard work Bryant and he had endured to bring his mother justice.

“I went from the absolute lowest of low that I have ever experienced to absolute euphoria,” Bryant said.

Gwendolyn’s death, on top of causing county-wide conflict in the 1970s Troup County, would haunt both the men for years.

“Clay and I were both very young when I saw my mother’s body in the well,” Moore recalled as he took long pauses between his sentences, only addressing the crowd per an attendee’s request.

“I noticed that the last thing she’d done was [pray]. I got interviewed by a pile of detectives and other people, but it didn’t go anywhere. To me, justice, at that particular time, there [was] no such thing.”

Moore, who had initially found the body, was only 14.

Bryant himeslf was only 15 the day he went with his father, the then Hogansville chief of police, Buddy Bryant, to the crime scene where Gwendolyn was pulled from the well where she had been found in Hogansville. After 30 years of building a life for himself, Moore would receive a call from Bryant asking for help in solving his mother’s case following an inquiry of another of Moore’s relatives. His closeness with the Bryant family instantly sealed his decision.

“I knew [Bryant’s] daddy, and I knew what kind of man he was, so when I found out Clay was going to be the investigator on it … all hands were off,” Moore said. “I backed Clay in every which way, form, or fashion. I didn’t know half the stuff he was going to be able to dig up.”

Bryant would work with state and local officials during the investigation. He thanked them all during his talk, including those who snuck in during the book talk.

In April 2003, Moore would sign the proper affidavits stating the need to exhume Gwendolyn’s body.

“We arrested Marshall Moore for the 1970 murder of his wife,” Bryant said.

Marshall Moore, Gwendolyn’s husband and accused killer, however, never saw his day in court, as he passed away in July 2005 of “pneumonia and malnutrition,” according to Bryant’s book.  Still, the alleged truth rendered a sense of peace for all involved, especially Moore.

“There was an outcome for me, and there was an outcome for my mother,” he said.

Just before Bryant wrapped up the book talk, Moore thanked him for what he did for his mother, for his whole family, and for his own piece of mind, but then admitted that he has yet to read the book, which was released a week prior.

“I probably won’t until we leave out of here … because I don’t want nobody to hear me,” he said.