A Robbinston woman pleaded not guilty to a murder charge Wednesday in the shooting death of a Pembroke woman last February.

When Rebecca Moores, 42, was arrested in July, Maine State Police released few details. But newly unsealed court records suggest Moores was a friend and drug customer of Paula Johnson, 55. She is charged with shooting Johnson in the head with a 9mm handgun at Johnson’s home.

Moores attended her arraignment hearing via Zoom on Wednesday. Her attorney, Steve Smith, did not respond to a message asking to discuss Moores’ case, but he indicated before the hearing that she intends to take the case to trial. A murder conviction in Maine carries a 25 years-to-life sentence.

When that trial will take place is unclear. Moores is one of 12 defendants in 11 murder cases in Washington County, most of which have yet to be scheduled for trial. The oldest of these cases dates back to Oct. 7, 2020. The judge indicated that he, local court officials and several attorneys involved in the cases will meet next week to determine how the county will handle scheduling these events with limited resources.

Johnson was found dead at her home in Pembroke on Feb. 9.

Maine State Police detectives and local law enforcement officers interviewed Moores three times before arresting her on July 6, according to a 32-page affidavit written by Maine State Police Detective Adam Bell.


Johnson was found by a friend who called the Washington County Sheriff’s Office after seeing her “on her couch, slumped over” through the window and breaking down her door. Johnson’s right ear and the left side of her head were covered in blood, according to the affidavit, and she was surrounded by needles, lighters and a melted white substance.

Police first spoke with Moores after Johnson’s son told them she was “Johnson’s best customer.” They identified her as a suspect after she recounted incriminating details about the murder scene, the affidavit said.

During the investigation, Moores and others told police that Johnson was a well-connected and cautious drug dealer. She had a pit bull who “would only allow people in the house that it knew, and it would rip apart anyone else.”

Texts between the two women and police interviews with others showed they had been in a romantic relationship months before Johnson’s murder.

Moores gave police conflicting accounts of her actions on the day Johnson was shot.

Moores first told police she was with Johnson the night of Feb. 7 before leaving for Calais. She said she stopped by Johnson’s house again later that evening because Johnson had stopped responding to her texts, but Johnson’s door was locked and her dog was barking inside.


A few days later, Moores changed her story, telling police she was at Johnson’s house with two friends who were “killing heroin dealers.”

Moores told police she thought at the time that meant beating up and robbing Johnson. She later said the men had drugged her and used her as bait to get into Johnson’s house.

In both accounts, Moores said the group waited until Johnson was passed out, high on heroin, and then shot her. Investigators later confirmed there was heroin in Johnson’s blood, and said she was likely unconscious when she was shot.

When officers obtained surveillance footage from a Shell gas station that Moores drove past afterward, they couldn’t see any other passengers, the affidavit said.

Officers later ruled out the men as suspects. Their DNA was not found at the scene and one of the two had an alibi. The other man, who was in a relationship with Moores at the time, told police he was high and locked in Moores’ apartment – something she did often – during the shooting.

Johnson and the second man were not on good terms – before Johnson’s death, the man told police Moores had offered to stab Johnson in the neck because Johnson had problems with him.

The morning after Johnson’s murder, Moores allegedly returned to her own residence “in an excited state.”

“He said Moores told him that she had gone to Johnson’s house the night before and had sat with Johnson pretending to shoot up heroin,” the affidavit stated. “Moores stated that Johnson finally passed out, and Moores shot Johnson behind Johnson’s right ear from a distance of approximately one foot.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.