The Case of Stella Bolton and James ‘JJ’ Moore

Today, February 16, 2021, marks 30 years since beloved Portsmouth, New Hampshire residents Stella Bolton and James ‘JJ’ Moore were found dead, victims of an attack in their own home.

This is a special release mini-episode of Dark Downeast.

Why a Mini-Episode?

Every now and then when I start researching cold cases, I run into a brick wall. Whether it’s lack of evidence, limited archived media coverage, scarce public info, emails and messages to sources with no reply… Even after hours of digging into a case and beginning to write about what I’ve uncovered, sometimes there just isn’t enough information out there for a full episode. 

But that doesn’t mean these cases aren’t worth covering. I feel it’s the opposite — if information is limited, that makes it all the more critical to shine a light on the names and stories of these victims. So when I do encounter these cases, I’ll bring them to Dark Downeast as short special release episodes. This is the first. 

Stella Bolton & JJ Moore

68-year old Stella Bolton moved to the United States from Trinidad where she was born, and reports say she was known as “everyone’s grandmother”. Stella loved to make cookies for the kids in her neighborhood. She played Bingo and spent lots of time cooking at her home — a small 4-room bungalow at 74 Rockhill Avenue in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a community known at the time as Mariner’s Village.

Stella lived with her longtime roommate 73-year old James ‘JJ’ Moore. JJ was retired from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and was a veteran of three wars. In his retirement, he liked to sit out on the front porch of that bungalow, crack a beer, and relax. He had a thing for cars, too. His neighbors told reporters he bought a new car almost every year.

Nothing I read indicated that Stella and JJ were anything more than roommates and friends. They had a relationship built on looking out for one another. Stella took care of JJ when he needed it — he had diabetes. And they both just shared a generous nature. People loved them.

The Murders

At 1:30 a.m. on February 16, 1991, a two-alarm fire was blazing in Mariners Village. 24 firefighters battled flames for over an hour, but the blaze left the small 4-room bungalow in charred remains. Inside, first responders found the bodies of Stella Bolton and JJ Moore. 

The fire marshal’s office determined that the fire started in the left rear bedroom and spread to a neighboring house, but the two eldery roommates didn’t die as a result of the fire. The medical examiner determined they had been stabbed before the fire was set. The attorney general’s office declared the deaths a double homicide.

According to a 2011 article, the suspected muder weapon was discovered by a boy in the neighborhood. He called the police to report a bloodied knife with an 8-inch blade he found nearby.

Police believed that the murders were committed by locals and the key to solving the case would be somebody speaking up about what they knew. But loyalties ran thick in the neighborhood, perhaps fear of speaking up played a role, too. Uncovering the truth about what happened to Stella and JJ through interviews proved unsuccessful. 

More Details

Hit play for more on the case of Stella Bolton and James ‘JJ’ Moore. We cannot let their names or their stories get lost with time.