TAMPA, Fla. – Just over a week ago, a friend of a missing Florida lottery winner approached an acquaintance with a chilling request, according to detectives: Dig up the body of the dead man in her backyard.
That woman, Dorice "DeeDee" Moore, was charged Tuesday with trying to conceal the slaying of the man who disappeared after winning millions. On Wednesday, a Hillsborough County judge ordered her held on $1 million bond. The dead man, Abraham Shakespeare, was last seen in April — more than two years after he took a lump-sum payment of $17 million on a $30 million jackpot.
Moore has denied hurting Shakespeare, but police say she tried to find someone she could pay to take the rap for the 43-year-old's killing and someone to move his body. At the same time, she was also taking "steps to make it appear that the victim was still alive," investigators said in an affidavit released after her arrest. She's charged as an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.
So far, no one else has been charged. But that could change, officials said Tuesday evening.
"I won't say we have identified all of the players involved," said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee. "We're going to find out everyone that was involved. We're going to seek justice."
Moore's arrest is another twist in the monthslong, bizarre case.
Detectives said Shakespeare was killed on April 6 or 7, 2009, at a home in a rural town east of Tampa. He was buried, officials said, at the home next door, which according to property records, was purchased by Moore and listed in the name of her boyfriend.
Investigators said in the affidavit released Tuesday that Moore recently asked an unnamed witness if he knew anyone who was awaiting sentencing to prison and would be willing to take the rap for killing Shakespeare in exchange for $50,000.
She also told an unnamed witness — it's not clear if it was the same person — to dig up the body and move it to another location, according to the affidavit. Authorities said she showed the person where the body was buried on Jan. 25 and provided a pickup truck to transport it, along with bleach and plastic sheeting. Police began digging up her backyard the next day.
Shakespeare was last seen in April, and officials in Polk County — where he lived and was reported missing — have long thought he was slain. Investigators had announced earlier Tuesday that an autopsy showed the Lakeland resident died of "homicidal violence" but would not give specifics.
In January, Polk officials named Moore, 37, a "person of interest" in Shakespeare's disappearance. She befriended him after he claimed the winning ticket in 2006.
Moore said she wanted to write a book about Shakespeare, but officials said she actually scammed him out of money. Property records show she bought a $1 million home from Shakespeare for $655,000 and she acknowledged moving $2 million of his money into her bank account.
In the affidavit, detectives said Moore wrote a letter to Shakespeare's mother, claiming to be him — even though the lottery winner was barely literate.
Detectives also said Moore had an unnamed witness make a cell phone call to Shakespeare's mother, pretending to be him.
In an interview Monday with The Tampa Tribune, Moore said she anticipated being arrested. Shakespeare's body was found Thursday buried 5 feet deep under a 30-by-30 foot concrete slab behind the home Moore owns with her boyfriend. Moore told the paper that she ordered it poured for use as a boat and camper skirt.
However, Moore said she never hurt Shakespeare.
"I would never take another human's life. No amount of money in the world is worth that," she said.
Moore's attorney, John Liguori, said he's not surprised his client was arrested, considering recent developments in the investigation. But Liguori said the killer could still be on the loose.
"DeeDee may be a valuable witness against anyone responsible for the actual murder of Abraham Shakespeare," Liguori said.
It's too early to speculate about the possibility of a plea bargain, Liguori said. He acknowledged that more serious charges could be filed later against his client.
Family members say Shakespeare, a truck driver's assistant, was constantly hounded for a piece of his winnings.
Last week, Shakespeare's brother told The Associated Press that Shakespeare often wished he had never bought the winning ticket.
"'I'd have been better off broke.' He said that to me all the time," Robert Brown said.