A Murder in Vail
"Do you know how long I've been trying not to do this?"
One year ago this month, Richard Moreau went on a shooting spree in a Vail bar and killed a man. It was the first homicide in the posh resort town in three decades. What went wrong? Good question.
In 2002, about a year into Moreau’s probation, he walked into the La Cantina restaurant inside the Vail Village Transportation Center. According to a Vail PD report, he ordered two chicken enchiladas and a Mexican martini, and caused quite a scene. A waiter overheard Moreau “yelling” at four people sitting at the table next to him. Moreau called them terrorists and threatened to kill them. The waiter escorted him out of the restaurant. One of the four people Moreau threatened heard him say he had a .45 in his bag. The police were called and found Moreau soon after on a local bus. No guns, though. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Back at the station, he registered a 0.258 blood alcohol level, more than three times the legal limit.
Moreau had already lost his mother and brother, and in 2005, Moreau’s father—a man he raved about and tried hard to impress—was dying. He didn’t make the trip to New Hampshire to see his dad on his death bed. “That’s all his dad kept saying is that he wanted to see Ricky,” Moreau’s Aunt Legere says. “That’s all his father wanted, was to see him.”
Two years after his dad died, in August 2007, Moreau swayed in a metal rocking chair outside his apartment while he spoke to a Vail Daily reporter about the valley’s housing problem. It was a video report that would find its way to YouTube. Moreau has a dark green military style hat pulled tight. Sunglasses dangle from his neck and rest in the middle of his chest against his green Under Armor T-shirt. The shirt is tucked into camouflage cargo shorts. His graying Yosemite Sam-style mustache is long, unkempt, straying beyond the boundaries of his jaw. His eyes dart about wildly.
He begins a virtually uninterrupted soliloquy that starts out about housing, but becomes something else: “I’ve got post-traumatic stress disorder. I’m 100 percent disabled from Vietnam.…I’m very, very frustrated. I’ve given 100 percent to this town. I coached here. I did some really good things.” He mentions how proud he is of the kids he coached. He says he’s proud of helping the Vietnam veterans participate in parades. He talks about putting together a support-the-troops rally. “I’ve given everything I can to this town. I’ve also raised hell here because I got here when I was in my 20s.”
Halfway through the three-minute video, his pride gives way to frustration. He sounds disheartened with Vail, the place he lovingly inked on his ankle decades earlier. He brings up his cats and his mood softens. The thought of maybe being priced out of the valley scares him. “I need a place to live for my cats and me for a long, long time,” he says. “This is my home. If I can’t get a place to live I’m gonna be forced to leave this valley and I can’t do that because I live here because the one thing that keeps me going are the activities like the skiing and the archery and the fly-fishing. I keep very, very busy.”
After that video, Moreau went quiet for a few years. He was still a character on the Vail stage, a mainstay at the Safeway Starbucks. In the mornings, drinking his coffee and reading the paper. He marched in the Fourth of July parade and was a regular in line at the Vista Bahn lift. But there were no DUIs, drug charges, or gun arrests. Then came November 7, 2009.