Custody Battle Ends in Tragedy: Father Murders Mother, Says Goodbye to Son

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Washington — A 42-year-old father, Duane Dushon Moore, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing the mother of his child, Kayla Vallee, during a bitter custody dispute. The incident unfolded on December 10, with Vallee’s life ending in a hail of gunfire inside Moore’s apartment.

Vallee’s stepfather had made an emergency call requesting a welfare check after the 40-year-old hadn’t returned home. Earlier that day, Vallee had borrowed her mother’s car to pick up her 10-year-old son from Moore’s residence. Concerned for her safety, Vallee’s parents became alarmed when Moore dropped off the child at their home, leaving him crying and claiming they would never see each other again.

Deputies from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call for a welfare check. Deputies located Vallee’s vehicle in the apartment complex where Moore resided. Upon gaining access to Moore’s apartment, authorities discovered Vallee’s body wrapped in a blanket and hidden between the couch and another piece of furniture. An autopsy later confirmed that Vallee had died from multiple gunshot wounds, ruling her death a homicide.

Investigators wasted no time in issuing a bulletin for Moore and his vehicle, triggering a manhunt as forensic teams processed the crime scene. Hours later, authorities received a tip about a suspicious vehicle parked on a trail in Buckley, Washington, matching Moore’s description. After an hour-long standoff in the woods, law enforcement officers utilized a taser to apprehend Moore, who had reportedly charged at them before falling.

Moore was subsequently taken to the hospital for evaluation and then booked into Pierce County Jail on a $1 million bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on January 3, 2024.

Friends and family of Kayla Vallee have expressed their shock and heartbreak over her tragic death. Vallee’s mother revealed that they had advised her against entering Moore’s apartment alone, fearing for her safety. She was never allowed in this apartment before. So all of a sudden, he was going to let her in,” Kingsbury explained. Vallee’s son said, “My brain actually refuses to believe that my mom is gone.”