Five years after tragic loss,
Casso family is slowly healing

By Tamara Steiner on February 24, 2014

Ray and Jo Ann CasparFive years ago on March 2, Ray Casso turned 73. He and his wife had lunch. Later, they gathered with the family to celebrate over dinner. It was a normal birthday.

Five days later, on March 7, anything resembling normal for the Casso family came to an end. In a random act still too hideous to understand, Shannon Bradley Moore stabbed Ray Casso to death in the Clayton Post Office and blew a hole in the family that nothing can fill. The murder sent shock waves through the community that are felt to this today, and the family still struggles to find footing on ground that keeps moving.

I met Jo Ann Casso and her family at the worst possible time in her life—in the wake of Ray’s murder. In the five years since, we have become friends, getting together every few months to touch base. Through her, I have come to know Ray.

I’ve learned that he was always happy. That he was smart, very funny, a wonderful father, grandfather and uncle. He and Jo Ann were “inseparable.” No matter how low she might be feeling, he could always make her laugh.

“Just a quick lunch would do it. He’s just tell me everything was going to be fine, and I believed him” They were married for 47 years.

Last week, over coffee, I asked Jo Ann what she thought Ray would say to her if he could send a quick text. It took her a minute to answer. “Go on.” That’s what he’d say. “Just go on.”

So, she goes on.

Petite and attractive, she gets up every morning, does her makeup and dresses for the day.

“I sleep a little later now,” she admits. She still works one day a week at the Marsh Creek Detention Center. She got a dog and occasionally travels a little with her sister.

Financially, she’s “ok”, but there isn’t much left over when the bills are paid. She was forced to sell their Tahoe vacation home right after Ray died and the family still feels the loss of their holidays in the mountains. Just after last Christmas, granddaughter Shelby texted Jo Ann, “I’m feeling low. I miss the holidays in Tahoe.”

Shannon Bradley Moore and Ray Casso crossed paths at the post office that morning when Ray went to pick up the mail. Moore, then 37, was at the counter wanting to cash in some postage stamps. When Tony Oliver, who was on duty that day, told Moore he couldn’t do that, Moore flew into a rage. He ran for the side door where an unsuspecting Ray was getting mail from his post office box. Moore grabbed Ray and stabbed him to death.

Moore ran down Center Street with Tony chase him. Police arrested Moore in front of Ed’s Mudville Grill. In the following years, Oliver suffered serious PTSD. He retired in 2012, still questioning whether he should have stayed with Ray at the post office instead of chasing Moore.

Moore, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was found “not guilty by reason of insanity” in 2009 and sentenced to 16 years to life in Napa State Hospital.

The sentence still haunts the family. Despite assurances by prosecutor Mark Peterson that Moore would “never get out,” there is still the remote possibility that someday, he could be found “fit to return to society.”

“He’s breathing and my husband’s not,” says Jo Ann. “How is that right?”

 

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