Killer pretended to be his victim in twisted text messages to her own mother

Dying her hair a variety of colors, particularly green, was just one of the ways independent Monica Moynan would express herself.

Known as Moni by her family, Monica had a big smile and a loving personality. Even though she was only 22, she always found ways to reinvent herself, whether it was with a new hair color or even a new job.

She lived in Holly Springs, North Carolina with two young daughters, both under the age of three. In addition to being a mother, Monica worked as a waitress at a local restaurant. She also had a side business making and selling immune-boosting elderberry syrup.

Then, in 2019, Monica began researching how she could become a doula — someone to assist women with childbirth. As Monica focused on providing for her children, there was only one thing holding her back — her children’s father, Brian Sluss.

Sluss was 20 years older than Monica. They met when she was just 18 and she was struggling with their difficult relationship. There have been at least two domestic violence incidents where Monica said he hit and choked her and attacked and threw her to the ground. Colleagues had seen bruises on her.

Monica issued a protective order to keep him away, but Sluss continued to text her non-stop and the on-off relationship continued as their young family grew.

While the young woman was strong-willed, she struggled with her self-esteem and this left her vulnerable to manipulation. With so much going on, Monica was kept busy and soon people started fighting to reach her.

Monica had a close relationship with her mother, Melanie Tucker. They lived an hour apart and couldn’t get together for weeks, but they kept in constant touch via text messages.

But as of April 2019, whenever Melanie asked Monica if they could meet, there was always an excuse as to why she couldn’t.

Monica has been described as “a vibrant force”.

Over the next few months, Monica’s messages were filled with good news and the usual positivity. She shared that the family had birthday plans or that she was worried a lost cat might upset her daughter. She revealed to her sister that she was busy with her doula training and enjoying every moment.

“It’s going great. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I love it so much,” she wrote.

But by July, Monica’s mother was concerned that she hadn’t seen or spoken to Monica in person for a long time.

She called the manager of Monica’s apartment and found that she hadn’t seen Monica since March, but she had seen Sluss several times.

Melanie called the police and requested a welfare check. Officials learned that after April 7, Monica suddenly stopped showing up for work. In fact, no one had seen her since.

When police spoke to Sluss, he said he last saw Monica in June. He said the young mother secretly became addicted to heroin and ran away. So why did Monica text her family like nothing happened? It didn’t sound true to anyone who knew her.

Police then discovered that Sluss had been driving Monica’s car and had her phone. He admitted that it was he who texted her family and friends from Monica’s phone and impersonated her for months.

He said he did it because he didn’t know how to tell Monica’s mother about the drug problem or disclose that she abandoned her children.

Sluss would later change his story and say that Monica had been depressed. Had she been overwhelmed and gone? Police continued to investigate and discovered that no one had seen Monica since April. The fear was that Monica hadn’t run away at all – something terrible had happened to her.

Found Monica’s blood

The investigations revealed not only that she did not show up for work at the restaurant, but also that Monica had stopped grocery shopping and her routine expenses had stopped. Her use of social media had also dropped dramatically.

Earlier in the year, Monica had been constantly online looking for things to help her achieve her goal of becoming a doula. But after April 7th, her phone was used to search porn websites and her credit cards were used to pay for dating sites — for Sluss. In addition, no one believed that Monica would leave her children.

Monica’s house was searched. It looked like someone had cleaned the kitchen with bleach. Floor tiles were removed and police found human blood in the cracks. It was Monica’s blood.

Further investigation revealed that while Sluss had constantly texted Monica to the point of stalking her, she stopped altogether after April. Rather than posing as Monica to cover up her escape, police believed he was pretending to be her to hide the fact that he had killed her. He used her tone and texting habits so no one would suspect.

Monika and her mom Melanie

Sluss was eventually arrested in May 2020 and charged with Monica’s murder. He was charged with killing Monica on or around April 7. Without a body, it was a complex case, but prosecutors applied Britny’s Law, a state law that allows first-degree murder charges to be brought against someone accused of killing a significant other if there is a history of domestic violence exist.

During this year’s trial, which lasted three weeks, prosecutors said Sluss was abusive and manipulative and that the murder was about power and control.

“Monica was sick of him,” prosecutors said, which enraged him. He killed her at her home and tried to cover it up. Police determined that Sluss had murdered Monica while the children were sleeping upstairs.

“She’s made every effort to become a self-sufficient, single mother of two beautiful girls – to no longer be dependent on the defendant. She made efforts to leave that relationship, and the state claims that was another reason for her death,” prosecutors said.

Sluss had been making money since Monica’s death. He used her credit card and even sold her stuff on Facebook Marketplace.

Monica’s best friend testified in court. She said Monica confided in her that Sluss choked her at least twice. “She saw the lights go out and that’s all she can remember. She said she almost died.”

Monica Moynan’s apartment


Credit CBS 17)

Monica’s friend told the court that Monica wanted to “get away” from Sluss.

Sluss also took the stand. He admitted to impersonating Monica on social media and via text message, but denied killing Monica. He said he wasn’t in a relationship with Monica when she left, and while he was staying with her, he had “no idea” where she was. He said after Monica went missing he didn’t report it because he thought she would come back.

Prosecutors released a “nanny cam” video of Sluss beating a young girl believed to be one of his daughters. When it was played, the court audibly gasped.

There was also surveillance video of Sluss pacing and double-checking locks on doors and windows.

jubilation at the verdict

In May of that year, Sluss was found guilty of first-degree murder involving domestic violence. It was the first time Britny’s Law had been successfully applied in the state. Monica’s family cheered and hugged.

Monica’s mother shared her sadness after the verdict. “She was a vibrant force, she was magnetic, her energy was very strong,” Melanie said. “A piece of our family puzzle is gone forever. Sluss did that for us.”

Monica’s two daughters were taken in by their mother and will grow up knowing how much they were loved.

Brian Sluss, 44, was sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole. He cruelly made Monica’s loved ones believe she was safe – but they have vowed not to rest until they find her remains and bring her home.

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