It's True: a Good Samaritan Lives

September 03, 1993

The concept of the Good Samaritan often seems on a par with Chessie the Bay Creature: You've heard of the character but believe it is a figment of someone's imagination.

Too often, a neighbor's concerns are not our own. We shrink from getting involved even when our help is needed. Alienation is so widespread it may well be a national psychic wound.

Then an item arises that suggests hope. A Guilford woman last Tuesday was rescued from an attacker who had entered her home in mid-afternoon and threatened to rape her and kill her infant. Fortunately, the owner of a nearby lunch stand, a school crossing guard and several neighbors who lived in adjacent town houses saw the intruder follow the woman into her home.

A potential disaster was thwarted because someone was looking out for his neighbor. William Burley, the owner of Burley's Bar-B-Q, had noticed the suspect earlier attempting to hitch a ride from female drivers leaving Guilford Elementary School. Later, Mr. Burley saw the same man watching the 30-year-old victim as she returned home after walking her child to the nearby school. He also saw the suspect enter the woman's residence.

Responding to the woman's screams, Mr. Burley and the others ran to the town house. Wielding a stick, Mr. Burley entered the home and forced the man outside. The suspect, 47-year-old Thurman A. Moore, submitted without a struggle -- lying face down on the pavement, his hands above his head and Mr. Burley's foot on the man's back and his stick against his neck -- until police arrived.

As it turned out (and so often does), Mr. Moore was a recently released convict with a history of sexual assaults dating back more than 30 years. For the Guilford incident, he faces charges of assault with intent to rape, assault and breaking and entering. He is being held in the county detention center without bail.

Mr. Burley was lucky and knows it. "He could have killed her," he said of the 6-foot, 4-inch, 200-pound suspect. "He could have killed me."

Mr. Burley had no idea how the suspect would respond. It's interesting that he saved the day not with a gun, but with a stick. Most people would like to think they could muster the nerve if faced with a similar dilemma. And yet, too often backs are turned, eyes are averted, even screams go ignored.

It is heartening to read a crime story that ends with the victim saved, the suspect apprehended and neighbors as heroes. And it's no myth.

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