cold-case-slaying-in-massachusetts-cracked-by-dna-from-conch-shell,-officials-say

DNA collected from inside a conch shell, a weapon used in the alleged fatal bludgeoning of a Massachusetts woman in 2001, led to the murder indictment of her half-brother, officials said.

David Reed, 53, formerly of Acushnet and New Bedford, was indicted by a Bristol County grand jury last week in the March 23, 2001, death of Rose Marie Moniz, according to a statement Thursday from Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III.

Moniz, 41, was found dead at her New Bedford home by her father, prosecutors said. She was beaten with a conch shell, a fireplace poker and a cast iron kettle, prosecutors said. After potential suspects were ruled out and leads dried up, the case was reopened in 2019, officials said.

Rose Marie Moniz.@BristolDA via Twitter

The invisible contents in the shell proved critical, authorities said.

Cold case investigators determined from autopsy photos, the possibility the exterior of the conch shell was used in the beating, officials said.

“At the request of our office, the crime lab tested the inner areas of the shell, where one’s fingers could reach. This testing revealed a DNA profile,” the statement said. The DNA profile was compared to the FBI’s national DNA database, which then matched Reed’s DNA profile, officials said.

“She was a mother who was brutally murdered inside the sanctity of her own home,” Quinn said in the statement. “Thanks to the efforts of my Cold Case Unit, along with detectives from our state police unit and New Bedford Police, we were able to bring some sense of relief to the victim’s family, all of whom suffered for the past 20 years from not knowing what happened to Ms. Moniz.”

Reed was indicted on charges of murder and armed robbery, officials said. He was also indicted in September in connection to a 2003 case of attempted murder and robbery of another New Bedford woman, officials said.

Moniz’s relatives could not be immediately reached Friday.

Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Quinn’s office, said Friday afternoon Reed has not secured an attorney in the slaying case. He is expected to be arraigned for the alleged murder within the next week or two, he said.

As for a possible motive in the homicide of his half-sister, Miliote said it appeared to be robbery.

“The contents of her purse were dumped and cash had been stolen,” he said.

Reed was being held in jail, officials said.

The attorney handling Reed’s case for alleged attempted murder in 2003, could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.

In that case, a woman was bludgeoned with a tire iron in a late-night assault, officials said. The victim told police how the assailant took her to a secluded area in his truck, beat her, and threw her out of the truck, leaving her bloodied in an alley. The woman’s pocketbook was stolen, officials said.

“Investigators have recently been able to obtain further evidence connected to the 2003 violent assault and robbery” which resulted in the indictment on that case, officials said.

Antonio Planas

Antonio Planas is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital. 

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