SEATTLE -- Writer Robin Moore, the best-selling author of 'The French Connection' and 'The Green Berets,' says his sister's mysterious death may be the work of witches or a cult that ceremoniously beheads animals.
The bizarre suggestion was made a day after authorities positively identified a skull found in a swampy area of North Seattle as that of his sister, Marcia Moore, who had been missing two years.
'I don't for one minute believe that my sister died a natural death,' Moore said Wednesday from his home in Westport, Conn. 'I think her demise was assisted perhaps by a cult we don't even know about. Marcia was targeted by these people on several occasions.'
Ms. Moore, heiress to the Boston blue-blood fortune of Sheraton Hotel chain founder Robert L. Moore, was a nationally known author on psychic phenomena who experimented with the hallucinogenic drug ketamine, an anesthetic, in the months prior to her disappearance.
Her anesthesiologist husband, Dr. Howard S. Alltounian, reported her missing after coming home from a movie around midnight on Jan. 14, 1979, and finding no trace of her at their duplex in the Alderwood Manor section of Seattle.
Moore, who announced his candidacy for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut on Wednesday, said his 51-year-old sister told him in 1977 that a 'witches' coven' was trying to kill her.
The author said the matter came up while he was traveling in Rhodesia in 1977, when he received a letter from a doctor offering his condolences about the death of his sister.
Moore, 55, said he immediately called Marcia, who told him that an occult group was trying to rattle her by sending the letter to him. He said she provided no details of the plot.
'The fact that her head was totally separated might possibly indicate that the head was severed,' he said. 'I don't know. But I do know that there are cults in which they behead animals as part of their ceremony.'
He said he asked the Snohomish County, Wash., coroner if the head had been 'neatly severed' from the body, but that he was told it was impossible to tell because only the upper portion of the skull was found.
Moore, who has penned several less well-known books about witches and the occult, said the information would have helped him confirm or disprove his theory that Marcia's body was hacked to pieces and dumped in various locations to prevent a search plane equipped with infrared devices from spotting her remains.
He said an air search of that type was conducted three weeks after she vanished.
The skull was found Friday by a person clearing land just off a highway in Bothell, Wash., for a construction project. Sheriff's deputies said other bones, including a leg bone, were discovered, but they have not been positively identified as being part of the woman.
Ms. Moore's wealth allowed her to indulge herself. She attended Radcliffe, took courses in meditation, traveled to India to study yoga and eventually wrote or co-authored seven books.
Among the writings were books on astrology, time regression and reincarnation, and Moore said that because of the 'parameters' of her interests she was 'constantly being threatened by occult groups and witches' covens.'
Ms. Moore, who used her maiden name, had been married four times.
Dr. Alltounian, 43, lives in a farmhouse in South Bend, a small southwest Washington community. He could not be reached for comment.