Moss-hopkins to serve 20 years in prison for murder of elderly woman symptoms of a concussion in a toddler

Moss-Hopkins hit Sinclair with a hammer nine or 10 times in Sinclair’s home at 223 Grebe Drive in Frederick County on June 17 or June 18, 2016, according to authorities. She then dismembered Sinclair’s body with a hacksaw and hid the remains in Hampshire County, W.Va.

Bryant said he agonized over the sentence, acknowledging that the killing devastated the families of Moss-Hopkins and Sinclair. He said he had to balance the “particularly gruesome” aspects of the crime with Moss-Hopkins’ history of mental illness, but noted a clinical psychologist who examined her said Moss-Hopkins didn’t meet Virginia’s definition of insanity. He said he also considered Moss-Hopkins actions after the killing, which included the dismemberment, hiding and attempting to burn the remains and concocting a story about why she cleaned up blood in the home and why she drove to West Virginia after leaving the home.

Moss-Hopkins befriended Sinclair in 2014 while she was a cashier at the Food Lion grocery stsore in Berryville and Sinclair was living at the nearby Mary Hardesty House, an apartment building for elderly people. After a fall and back injury, Sinclair moved in with her daughter, and the unlicensed Moss-Hopkins became her caregiver, spending at least four hours per day with her. While early dementia could make Sinclair demanding at times, the two were close and Moss-Hopkins was considered like a family member.

Friends and family of Moss-Hopkins, who had no prior criminal record, testified at a court proceeding on Monday that she was an extremely compassionate and generous woman who had overcome a tough upbringing in Alabama that included being sexually assaulted by her grandfather. While never displaying signs of violence, they said she had bouts of delusion and paranoia, including a two-day disappearance in Alabama in 2007 when Moss-Hopkins said she was stalked by men with machetes. In 2008, she began shaking uncontrollably while driving, forcing Kristen Hopkins, her daughter, to grab the wheel and steer the car to the side of the road. In 2009, she left her family at a Winchester restaurant and drove to Colorado Springs, Colo.

As Kristen Hopkins sobbed in the courtroom, a tearful Moss-Hopkins addressed Sinclair’s family before the sentence was pronounced. She said she would be “tortured mentally for what I did until I take my last breath.” Moss-Hopkins said she wished she could have done more to address her mental illness, which she said she had since she was a child.

“If you could read my thoughts and know what is in my head, you would know how much I loved Peg and how much I miss her and the special relationship we shared,” she said. “I could never knowingly and purposefully take her life. All I ever wanted was for her to be loved and protected and supported.”

Family members said they wanted Sinclair to be remembered for her life more than the way she died. She overcame sexism while working in the arts, television promotion and tourism while raising two children as a single mother. Sinclair, who grew up in Charlottesville, started her own public relations business and had been promotions manager at the Richmond television station WRVA and director of the Alexandria Tourist Council.

Lisa Gilkerson, Sinclair’s daughter, said in an interview after the sentencing that she was satisfied with the sentence and that the murder was a “huge tragedy” for both families. Gilkerson said she would never have allowed Moss-Hopkins to be with her mother if she had shown signs of mental illness. She said it was a shame that Moss-Hopkins didn’t get the mental help she needed.

“But at the same time, to take my mom. I’m not a mental health expert, but I do have to wonder with all that she did disposing of the body, how much was she in one of her mental illness states at that time or was it calculated,” Gilkerson said as she fought back tears. “I have not a clue what happened. I have not a clue what caused it.”