WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH/NBC NEWS) — The search for a missing central Ohio woman that evolved into a murder trial against her husband is once again seeing national attention.
On Friday’s “Dateline,” when three women discover the body of Emily Noble in a wooded area near her Westerville home nearly four months after she went missing, investigators must determine if her death was a suicide or homicide. Noble disappeared in May 2020, and two years passed between the search for her, delays in the release of a final autopsy report and court proceedings against her spouse.
Included in the all-new “Dateline,” Emily’s husband and former suspect, Mattheau Moore, will talk about the case that rocked central Ohio in an exclusive interview. Shortly after Noble’s body surfaced in September 2020, an attorney acting as her successor agent filed a lawsuit against Moore. The attorney’s reason: He sought to strip Moore of access to his wife’s finances. Detectives had said they were investigating Moore for potential involvement in his wife’s disappearance.
A little over a year after his wife disappeared, Westerville police surrounded Moore’s car to arrest him. He later faced charges of murder and felonious assault, as prosecutors accused him of staging his wife’s death to appear as a suicide. While Noble was found with a 20-inch USB cord wrapped around her neck, they pointed to forensic experts, who said Noble’s facial and neck bone fractures indicated someone strangled her.
Moore’s defense countered by arguing that hanging couldn’t be ruled out as the cause of his wife’s death. Attorney Diane Menashe focused on Noble’s diagnosis of depression, calling the case against her husband “speculation.”
Battle in court
It was another year, then an 11-day trial — which saw testimony from Noble’s sister — before a Delaware County jury found Moore not guilty on all counts. When the judge read the verdict, Moore wept in the courtroom as he lowered his head.
Preview: Dennis Murphy’s report on ‘Dateline’
The town of Westerville, Ohio, was waking up to a brand-new day. And Emily Noble was still missing.Her husband Matt hadn’t seen her for more than 24 hours.
And now Westerville P.D. Detective Steve Grubbs was reading the responding officer’s report about the visit with Emily’s husband, Matt Moore.
DETECTIVE STEVE GRUBBS: On my own, you know, proactively pulled up that report and read the narrative to it. And something about it just didn’t sit with me.
DENNIS MURPHY: What made your nose twitch about it? If that’s the right word.
DETECTIVE STEVE GRUBBS: Yeah. Um, that inner gut feeling, it, it just felt like something was, was off.
It may have seemed that Emily was dancing through life, but it hadn’t been easy. She’d survived a lot of crushing sadness over the years.
And in 2020 — as the pandemic took hold — life got particularly hard. Like so many of us, Emily and her husband Matt were in lockdown.
But on Sunday, May 24, 2020, Emily and Matt wanted to get out and celebrate. It was Emily’s 52nd birthday. It was also Memorial Day Weekend. So, they dipped their toes back into the local nightlife scene with a trip to some bars.
JESSIKA SELFIDGE: It was right after the bars reopened from Covid. And they were the only people I had for the time that they were there. They were there for about 45 minutes.
Jessika Selfridge was tending bar that night. She had time to observe her only customers.
JESSIKA SELFIDGE: Uh, we talked a little bit about like Covid things, like I had to wear a mask for instance. And, um, they told me that since it was her birthday, they were gonna continue to kind of barhop a little bit.
Night turned into morning — into afternoon. At 2:47 p.m. on May 25 — Emily’s friend Celeste Grone got a call from Emily’s phone.
CELESTE GRONE: So, I picked up and I said, “Hi, Emily,” and it was Matt. And he said, “Is Emily over there?” And I said, “No,” and he said that they were supposed to go to a party in the afternoon and he hadn’t seen her, and she hadn’t returned from a walk in the morning, and he was assuming it was a walk. And I said, “Well, is this normal?” And he said, “No, it’s not normal.” And I said, “Call the police.”
Watch “Dateline: The Clearing,” Friday at 9 p.m. on NBC4.