February 12, 2024 | By: Briana Pereira
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and the University of North Florida’s Applied Journalism class.
Many people remember Michael Edward Moriarty as always being the smartest young man in the room. He was eager to learn, funny, and loved playing sports. Most importantly, he was known as a loving, kind, and overall good kid.
Michael’s life ended too soon. At age 19, he was murdered in the early hours of December 18, 2016. Michael’s murder remains unsolved, and not a day goes by that his family and friends don’t hope for justice.
Michael Edward Moriarty was born on February 7, 1997, in San Antonio, Texas. Growing up, he was raised by his mom, Julie Miller, and his dad, Edward Moriarty. Michael had a twin, named Matthew and two older sisters, Natalie Bennett and Kayla Miller. There was a nine-year age gap between Michael and his sister Kayla, and a 12-year gap between him and Natalie. Being 12 years his senior allowed Natalie to fill the shoes of being a big sister. Oftentimes she would serve as a safe space for him, and he was able to confide in her. “I did my best to offer him guidance when he needed it; I always tried to lead him on the right path and encouraged him to make the right decisions, ” said Natalie.
Prior to his death, Michael spent 19 years creating beautiful and lasting memories with the loved ones around him to cherish forever. “Since Michael was born, he’s been a fighter,” Natalie said. He and his twin brother were born two months early, each weighing less than three pounds; spending months together in the NICU, they fought to develop and become stronger.
Barney & Friends was one of Michael’s favorite shows as a child. His mom shared one of her favorite memories from his childhood that perfectly captured his playful personality. At a meet and greet with America’s favorite purple dinosaur, Michael – at the age of only 3 or 4, decked Barney in the stomach during their encounter in a joking manner, leaving everyone, including Barney, entertained.
His aunt, Lisa Henderson, said she’ll never forget a particular Thanksgiving when Michael was around seven. He and his family visited a church for the holiday. Throughout the duration of the evening, Michael was fascinated by the piano and its melodies. A bit later in the evening, they lost track of him and began to panic – until they were interrupted by the uneven sounds of loud smashing on a keyboard. When they looked up, they were relieved to see Michael making his best attempt at playing the piano and they all enjoyed a good laugh.
Michael was overall an easy-going kid; his mom and sister, Natalie, both agreed that his favorite holidays had to be the ones where presents were involved. Christmas or his birthday would have likely been tied for first, but he also really enjoyed Thanksgiving because of the food. Michael also loved sports; his sister Natalie said his love for sports probably came from his dad’s love for sports. Basketball was Michael’s favorite; he played growing up.
Michael’s murder took place during the early hours of December 18, 2016. His body was found by a jogger on Devine Road in Olmos Park, outside of San Antonio, Texas. He had several gunshot wounds to his abdomen. Around 8 a.m., officials pronounced Michael dead at the scene. Since his murder, one suspect was arrested: A childhood friend of Michael’s. Months after the arrest, a grand jury decided there was not sufficient evidence to indict him, leaving Michael’s case cold, and his family without justice. Although Michael is no longer with his family, his memory and impact lives on.
Following Michael’s death, his mom and sister set up a memorial at the spot where his body was found. Natalie said that because of park regulations, the city continuously took it down and each time the family fought to put it right back up. Because of their determination, the city ended up making an official memorial for Michael and placing it where he died. A rock that reads ‘In Memory of Michael Edward Moriarty 1997-2016’ honors him and his life. His family said, “Every time we visit the park, we see someone looking at his memorial and it brings us comfort to know he will not be forgotten.”
Michael’s family is able to experience glimpses of him through his twin brother, Matthew. His sister Natalie described it as almost getting to have half of him still with them, although of course it isn’t the same. Many of his family members have tattoos in his memory. “I can’t think of a single person in the family who doesn’t have something permanently tattooed on them in memory of Michael,” said Lisa, his aunt.
Michael’s death has had a major impact on both his sister, Natalie, and his mom’s life. They both shared that losing Michael has brought them closer to God. They needed to find grounding in all the uncertainty they were facing and going back to church is how they were and are still able to do that. Michael’s loved ones’ lives will never be the same, but every day they work harder to find peace with the circumstances they are given.
“Michael was just a good person, and always so forgiving, you know? And I know if he was here, despite everything, he would want us to forgive the person who did it; I know in Heaven, he’s already forgiven them. He would want us to find our peace, ” said Natalie.
Anyone with information on Michael’s case is asked to contact the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office at 210-335-6027. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a reward, please call Crime Stoppers of San Antonio at 210-224-STOP.
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