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Mystery of vanished heiress: Was she murdered — or ‘dematerialized’?

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Mystery of vanished heiress: Was she murdered — or ‘dematerialized’?

When Marcia Moore disappeared without a trace on a bitterly cold night in January 1979, her family received several “bulletins” from psychics across the country. One of them said that the heiress to the Sheraton Hotel fortune was “stuck in the fourth plane in the 12th dimension” and having trouble getting out.

At the dawn of the New Age movement in the 1970s — when many were experimenting with crystals, astrology and personal transformation — the explanation seemed oddly credible to Marcia’s circle of friends. The missing 50-year-old was a yoga teacher and astrologer of some renown who had spent time at an ashram in India and written six books, including one on reincarnation. With her neatly cut bangs, the lithe Radcliffe College graduate believed she shared a past life with Cleopatra.

Before her disappearance from her home in Seattle, Marcia had been experimenting with ketamine, a hallucinogenic drug, and brainstorming a project to “dematerialize” herself, according to Hollywood writer and director Elisabeth Bentley, who is working on a limited documentary series about Moore’s life. The heiress’ story is also told in “Dematerialized: The Mysterious Disappearance of Marcia Moore” (Post Hill Press), by Joseph and Marina DiSomma, out now.

From an early age, Moore was obsessed with the occult and reincarnation.

The hocus-pocus, along with her conservative family’s embarrassment over Marcia’s obsession with New Age philosophies, as well as her own marital history — Marcia was on her fourth husband when she disappeared — all worked to derail the investigation into her whereabouts.

“A lot of things Marcia did was mortifying for the family,” said Bentley, who is friends with Marcia’s niece, Elizabeth. “If she were alive today, she would have been an Oprah-like person. She was one of the first to bring yoga to this country, and likely the first person to use the phrase ‘Age of Aquarius.’ Some of her conclusions have also been proven right. She intuited things that are being studied more rigorously, such as the use of hallucinogenic treatments for PTSD.”

But Marcia Moore may have been too ahead of her time — and the embarrassment her powerful family felt would ultimately benefit her presumed killer. In 1981, when Marcia’s remains were finally discovered near her home, the trail had already gone cold.

Marcia Moore demonstrating a yoga posture.
Marcia Moore “mortified” her family when her yoga enthusiasm turned to dabbling in hallucinogens.
Boston Public Library

“Her story fades with each passing year,” write the DiSommas, a husband-and-wife investigation team who spent years piecing together the story of Marcia Moore after Marina DiSomma discovered her books in a garage and became fascinated with her story.

“Every drive by a Sheraton hotel is a reminder of how few people know the unusual, hidden story of Marcia and the Moore family,” they write.

Marcia Sheldon Moore was born on May 22, 1928, the only daughter of Sheraton Hotel chain founder Robert Lowell Moore and his wife, Eleanor Turner Moore, in Cambridge, Mass. The clan could trace their lineage to the 1600s, and Marcia and her three brothers were raised in a Colonial mansion on a two-acre estate in tony Concord. According to the DiSommas, the Moore family home was “complete with servants’ quarters, Japanese garden, grape arbor, raspberry patch and apple orchard,” and there was also a summer home on Cuttyhunk Island, west of Martha’s Vineyard.

Marcia Moore and Simons Roof on their wedding day.
Moore’s first husband was struggling writer Simons Roof.

Although Robert Moore had dabbled in Theosophy, a 19th-century spiritual movement that dictated that knowledge of God could be achieved through meditation and transcendence, the patrician family discouraged the same kind of interests in Marcia. Her mother favored eldest son Robin, who would achieve global fame in 1969 with the release of his book, “The French Connection,” which inspired the Best Picture winner at the 1972 Academy Awards.

From an early age, Marcia was obsessed with the occult and reincarnation.

“She was often misunderstood and far ahead of her time in fearlessly exploring metaphysics with new, sometimes controversial ideas,” write the DiSommas.

Moore wrote books on spirituality, astrology and reincarnation.
Moore wrote books on spirituality, astrology and reincarnation.

Shortly after abandoning her studies at Radcliffe after her freshman year (she would complete her degree a decade later), Marcia married her first husband, a struggling writer named Simons Roof. They took off to India for a year in 1955, traveling around with their three young children as Marcia studied yoga and was blessed by the Dalai Lama.

After their return to the US, Marcia began to blossom as a writer and yoga instructor, often turning her front lawn into an open-air Hatha yoga studio. But her marriage was falling apart, and in 1962, Marcia and Roof filed for divorce.

‘If she were alive today, she would be an Oprah-like person.’

Hollywood director Elisabeth Bentley, who is working on a documentary series about Moore’s life.

Marcia took on a series of lovers before marrying her second husband, a 21-year-old student named Louis Acker, whom she had met through her astrology circle. The couple “affirmed the engagement based predominantly on their compatible astrological charts,” according to the DiSommas. Acker, a towering redhead, was 12 years her junior, and although the couple happily practiced yoga and lectured on astrology together, the marriage was over after three years.

Weeks after divorcing Acker, Marcia wed Mark Douglas, a Korean War veteran and grifter she claimed to have met in a previous life. He was also, according to “Dematerialized,” a hustler jailed for failure to pay child support for his two kids from a previous relationship. Douglas saw potential in Marcia, and encouraged her to write books. He started a publishing company and opened a health-food store in York Harbor, Maine, where she could sell her wares.

He also soon began to control much of Marcia’s income from trust funds and stock that she held in her family’s hotel company. When she walked out on him in 1966 after suffering a black eye, among other physical injuries, Douglas had already cashed in more than $120,000 worth of Marcia’s stock as well as taking over her mansion, the store and an apartment they had owned together, according to “Dematerialized.”

Rogin Moore
Marcia’s brother, Rogin Moore wrote, “xxxx.”

Marcia then retreated to California and plunged into meditation and experiments with hallucinogenic drugs. She was partly influenced by Timothy Leary, the Harvard psychologist and counter-culture hero who became famous for his advocacy of LSD for therapeutic use in psychiatry.

Marcia began to experiment with ketamine hydrochloride, an anesthetic also known as “Special K” — and notorious for later becoming a date-rape drug. She took the “psychotropic substance for what she hoped would be the next consciousness expanding breakthrough,” according to the DiSommas.

Marcia felt that the drug would allow her to explore past lives — a process she called “returning to the bright world.” She would later co-author a book with her fourth husband, medical doctor Howard Alltounian, titled “Journeys into the Bright World” and published a year before she died. Marcia called ketamine “the goddess” and often brought along the drug and needles to give herself inter-muscular injections while the family vacationed on Cuttyhunk Island, according to Bentley.

Marcia Moore and Mark Douglas
One of Moore’s ex-husbands, Mark Douglas, took control of her finances and left her.

“She wasn’t hiding it,” Bentley told The Post. “The whole family was just mortified by her behavior because they had a prominent social place on the island. The fact that she was running around shooting ketamine and behaving bizarrely was deeply mortifying.”

Marcia’s niece Elizabeth Moore, an entrepreneur who spent summers on the island as a child, remembers her aunt at that time as “distant, elusive, radiant.” Elizabeth, now 58, told The Post that she last saw her aunt about five years before Marcia’s disappearance.

“We used to spend our summers on Cuttyhunk Island,” recalled Elizabeth. “One summer she was there, and one summer she wasn’t.”

The next time Elizabeth saw her aunt was at a supermarket in the summer of 1979 — on the front page of the National Enquirer under the headline, “Missing scientist has become invisible and is somewhere out in the cosmos.”

Marcia Moore and Howard Altounian
Moore’s last husband, Howard Altounian, supplied her with ketamine.

“In retrospect I wonder why we didn’t question it much,” said Elizabeth of her aunt’s disappearance. “It really was a sign of the times. It was such a quintessential patriarchal society and we were a patriarchal family.”

On Jan. 14, 1979, hours before she was to leave on a 20-hour car journey to Ojai, Calif, Marcia Moore simply disappeared. Her husband Howard Alltounian, an anesthesiologist she had married 14 months before and who supplied her with ketamine, didn’t call police until early the following morning. He told police that Marcia had gone to the movies and had never returned. He said she was distraught, a manic depressive and had developed a mental disorder from her use of ketamine. She had also, he claimed, threatened suicide.

But Alltounian’s characterization of his wife was strange to her closest friends, who said that Marcia was over the moon about moving to Ojai — “a nexus of mystical forces,” as the book described it — and was planning to start a magazine about reincarnation. What her husband failed to mention to police was that he and Marcia had a troubled relationship.

Marcia Moore
Only the upper portion of Moore’s skull has ever been found. Her disappearance remains a cold case.
Courtesy Concord Free Public Library

Alltounian seemingly should have been the primary suspect in her disappearance, but evaded real scrutiny until his death in 2006.

“I can recall my uncle who was the executor of her estate, talking to my father and suspecting that it was the husband who killed her,” said Elizabeth. “There was concern, but no rage. There wasn’t enough passion to find out the truth. They were all gentlemen and they took care of business.”

At the time, Alltounian seemed grief-stricken by his wife’s death. He told an Enquirer reporter for the 1979 piece that they had an idyllic marriage and were inseparable. He said he was planning to take a vow of celibacy until she returned — reincarnated.

Marcia Moore's grave
Marcia Moore’s grave.

The vow didn’t last long. Soon after her disappearance, Alltounian started dating. In fact, police were investigating him for serial rape, although he was never charged with a crime, according to “Dematerialized.”

By the time police discovered Marcia’s remains — only the upper portion of her skull, containing several gold crowns, was found — in March 1981, two miles from her home, the investigation into her disappearance was hopelessly stalled.

Although the detective leading the investigation suspected Alltounian was to blame, he could never muster the necessary proof, according to “Dematerialized.” The couple’s home had never been thoroughly searched after she was reported missing and Alltounian was never rigorously re-interrogated.

Marcia Moore
When asked about his wife’s wearabouts, Howard said she had gone to the movies and never returned.

“It must be acknowledged that the supernatural elements as they pertain to the investigation were heavily sensationalized, and clouded the judgment of Marcia’s friends, family, fans, even law enforcement,” write the DiSommas. “They served Howard well as an immense distraction from a conventional missing persons case, potentially forestalling a criminal indictment.”

In September 2021, the body of Marcia’s son Christopher Roof, 59, was identified a decade after he had been reported missing, in Stacyville, Maine. As with his mother, the cause and manner of death were undetermined.

Book cover of 'Dematerialized.'

The truth about what happened to Marcia Moore on that freezing night in 1979 is still not known to this day.

In 1981, her novelist brother, Robin, revealed his own theory to the UPI: “I don’t for one minute believe that my sister died a natural death. 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.”

He added that in 1977 Marcia had claimed that a “witches’ coven” was trying to off her.

But Alltounian certainly had an explanation he promoted.

“It all,” he told the Enquirer, “points to dematerialization.”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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