Police don't believe Moynan is alive because of the length of time that she has been missing and the fact that she hasn't used any credit cards, posted on social media or texted anyone during that time, Holly Springs spokesman Mark Andrews said.
"These things, along with other evidence collected over the past couple of months and during the course of our extensive investigation, lead us to believe that Monica is no longer alive. Our investigation is now focused on determining the whereabouts of Monica’s remains, as well as determining the cause of her death," Andrews said in a statement.
A Holly Springs police officer has been stationed outside Moynan's apartment for the past three months, and fingerprint powder authorities used in the investigation still covers much of the front door.
"It sent chills down my spine because she was such a sweet person," Mary Southern, a friend of Moynan's, said Thursday of learning that the police's missing person investigation has shifted into a death investigation. "I'd love to know what happened to her."
"That's horrible because I was praying she wasn't [dead]. I really was praying she wasn't," neighbor Sheneitha McNeil said.
According to applications for warrants to search electronics police found in Moynan's Holly Springs apartment, her social media accounts and a vehicle driven by her former boyfriend, Moynan and the ex-boyfriend, Brian Sluss, had two daughters, ages 4 and 1, and Sluss had been seen with the girls at various times in July.
Southern said she asked Sluss about Moynan, and he told her "she's in the house in the bed asleep."
Investigators said in the applications that Sluss had been driving Moynan's car and using her cellphone, even pretending to be her in texts and Instagram posts to her family and friends. He also had been staying at Moynan's apartment even though management had a trespass order preventing him from setting foot on the property.
Sluss, 48, told police that Moynan had become addicted to heroin and had run off in late June after he tried "home rehab" to break her of the addiction. He said he didn't know how to tell her family about it, so he sent texts to them as if everything was fine with her. But investigators noted in the warrant applications that he had told other people Moynan had been at a drug treatment facility for months.
Friends and neighbors are skeptical about her being a heroin addict. Moynan's mother and her friends told investigators that she never would have left her children.
"She was very nice. Every time I would speak to her, she would speak to me. I would see her getting in her car sometimes with her two little girls. I loved her little girls," McNeil said.
Family and friends said Moynan had an abusive relationship with Sluss, the warrant applications state. One woman who worked with Moynan told police that she had seen Sluss physically drag her from the restaurant on more than one occasion and that she had seen bruises on Moynan.
Moynan took out a domestic violence protective order against Sluss in May 2016, when they lived in Johnston County, stating that he had punched and choked her in October 2015 and had been hit, tackled and thrown about two months after that.
Police haven't said Sluss is a suspect or a person of interest in the case.
Moynan's mother issued a statement late Thursday calling her daughter "a wonderful, warm, free-spirited, strong-minded, hard-working mother."
"Monica was a dedicated and passionate single mom striving to build a great life for her and her children and was quite determined to do this," Melanie Tucker said in the statement. "The [Holly Springs Police Department] has an amazing team that have worked around the clock on this case, and we are so grateful to them! We remain confident the the person responsible for Monica’s death will absolutely be brought to justice."
Anyone with information about Moynan is asked to call Detective Mitchell Ham of the Holly Springs Police Department at 919-567-4702.
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