SAN ANTONIO -- Deborah and Charlie Moore are partners in both their marriage and job.
They describe themselves as being in the business of bringing dignity back to peoples’ families after the death of their loved ones.
They don't run your typical mom-and-pop shop but they are self-employed. They run Crime Clean of Texas, a crime scene cleaning service. The company was the third of its type in the United States and first in Texas.
On a job, they can spend up to half a day talking to the family about their plan and sometimes the deceased, leaving the Moores emotionally exhausted. That's where they lean on each other.
"I love it, " Charlie said about working with his wife. “I don't like to leave home without her. She's my best friend. It's really good because some of the situations we get into are very emotionally charged.”
The couple said their relationship helps with the emotionally tasking parts of their job, like cleaning up after the deaths by suicide or violent murders.
The pair shares a collaborative 37 years in the Baptist hospital system before they started their business in 1995.
Deborah previously worked in the Emergency Room and now handles administrative duties; while Charlie was a part of the process to properly dispose of the hazardous materials among other things and now heads up the hazmat process for Crime Clean.
They work together to make sure they not only clean up crime scenes and hoarder's houses but offer closure where they can. They are hired out for their expertise in difficult cleanings and all the factors that go into them.
There is more to their job than just sanitation, though.
Crime scene cleaners are not allowed to have contracts with police, so the customers they get are from referrals or off individual research. Many times they are called after a family member dies either of natural means or murder or suicide.
Their next steps include assessing the scene, making a plan and executing that plan to insure they not only clean up the physical evidence but the possible viruses and diseases left behind.
They’ve met a variety of different characters and encountered a multitude of situations in their line of work. Like the time the police showed them a picture of a murderer who came back later to the scene they were cleaning. Oh how they know just how specific one must be when cleaning a deceased hoarders’ house.
“At the end of the day no one wants to hear what we do,” Charlie said. “At the end of the day we are able to talk to each other, debrief and go home.”
In the past, family members or volunteers would have to clean up after the death of a loved one. Now, services like Crime Clean take care of both the physical evidence and potentially harmful residue while allowing the family to recover without having to relive the experience.
“We see things no one should ever have to see because that's the last thing they'll remember,” Charlie said. “When you walk into a scene you see it, smell it, taste it even the air feels different. It's something you can't explain but the families shouldn't have to deal with that.”
The Moores travel around the San Antonio and Austin to take care of scenes, which can take up to months at a time.
During one particular situation the Moores helped an out-of-town family above and beyond protocol. The family wasn’t allowed back into the apartment of the deceased so they had to ask the Moore’s for some very specific things.
The Moores went back into the apartment to get clothes for the deceased, and paperwork the family needed for the burial. The family told the Moores the police or the medical examiner wouldn’t help them.
“They were mad at somebody, so Deborah talked to them and calmed them down,” Charlie said. “They called the next day and said, there’s a little fish in there [the apartment] and we don’t want it to starve to death.”
So the Moores went out and bought fish food to feed it while they cleaned the apartment.
Through it all, they're able to talk about what they see with one another and use each other through particularly tough situations.
They’ve been married for 14 years and have been best friends for over 30. Between the two of them they have three children and said they are very blessed and have good careers.
“Sometimes we get little cards in the mail or people ask us, ‘Can we give you a hug’ or ‘Can we say a prayer for you?’ That’s good,” Charlie said.