(This story originally appeared in the Bradenton Herald)
MANATEE — Two days before she died, Moriah Hope Goode gave her mother a birthday present. It was the morning of Nov. 4, and the 18-year-old couldn’t wait till after work.
“She held up one of them, and then she held the other,” Janet Leigh Goode, 61, said of the two large posters with 100 $1 bills taped to the back — an inside joke between the family.
Both posters were covered in mostly black-and-white photos of mother and daughter. “You are so appreciated & loved,” reads one of the handwritten messages. “I am the luckiest daughter,” reads another. Moriah wrote her mother is like a “book of poetry” and declared they were best friends.
“I want to touch her,” Goode said Monday evening as she sat outside her west Bradenton home, her voice cracking. “I just want to touch her again and I just want to hold her and tell her ‘I’m sorry Moriah. I’m sorry if I let you down. I’m sorry for this happening to you, but I’m not sorry that you’re in heaven. I’m thankful to God you’re in heaven. I couldn’t make it if you weren’t in heaven.’”
Moriah was shot to death Sunday afternoon in the West Samoset area, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
At about 4:35 p.m., authorities received a call about a possible shooting that had taken place in the area of the 3300 block of Fourth Street East. While deputies were responding to the scene, they learned from the Bradenton Police Department that Moriah had arrived at the hospital and was driven there in her vehicle by a potential witness.
The aspiring emergency medical technician was pronounced dead at Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton after sustaining gunshot wounds, according to the sheriff’s office.
“We’re trying to piece together what happened. We’ve got a decent idea of what happened,” said sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow, adding that detectives are working on some leads in the case. “We know that she was in a vehicle with another person and there were multiple shots fired. That person ended up taking her to the hospital.”
No arrests have been made at this time.
“We don’t think this was a random incident,” Bristow added.
Goode and her husband, Gary Lynn Goode, 63, described Moriah as a very loving child who had overcome a lot in her life, including battles against lupus, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Moriah, whose birth parents were born in Haiti, was adopted by the Goodes as a newborn.
“Mr. & Mrs. Gary Goode adopted me the day I was born. They are the only parents I’ve ever known,” wrote Moriah four years ago after her mother launched a GoFundMe page to raise funds for Moriah’s treatment of lupus and JRA. “How blessed I am to have their love and care.”
On the page, Moriah wrote of being diagnosed with lupus, JRA, and fibromyalgia. She added any donations would be greatly appreciated.
“If all you have is prayer and love to give we will gladly accept that, too,” she wrote.
Her daughter was full of laughs and giggles, Goode said.
“She was Daddy’s girl,” her husband said, his eyes shifting to the ground.
Goode’s tone changed slightly as she said “somebody out there” knows something.
“Somebody’s seen something or somebody’s talked about something and I need them to come forward,” she said with tired eyes. “Just think about what it would be like if you had a daughter or a sister that had been shot. Wouldn’t you want someone to come forward?”
She hardly hesitated before addressing the person who murdered her daughter.
“I want you to know I’ve forgiven you. I have forgiven you,” Goode said. “Now, in order for you to forgive yourself, turn yourself in. Turn yourself in and let’s get justice for Moriah.”
The investigation into Goode’s death continues. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.