Conch Shell leads arrest of man charged with the brutal murder of his stepsister in 2001

After a brutal Massachusetts murder went unsolved for 20 years, a conch helped authorities lead to the arrest of the woman’s half-brother, according to the district attorney.

David Reed, 53, was charged last week with the 2001 murder of Rose Marie Moniz, 41, according to a press release from the Bristol County Prosecutor’s Office. Reed reportedly entered Moniz’s New Bedford home on March 23, 2001 and clubbed her to death with a poker, a cast iron kettle, and a conch shell.

There was no sign of a forced entry into her house and money was stolen from her purse.

Although New Bedford Police focused on two potential suspects earlier in the investigation, the case eventually turned cold.

Now District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III says David Reed is responsible. Reed was also indicted concurrently on charges relating to the attempted murder and robbery of a local woman named Maribel Martinez-Alegria in 2003.

“I am pleased to announce the indictments relating to the previously unsolved homicide of Rose Marie Moniz,” Quinn said. “She was a mother who was brutally murdered in the sacred grounds of her own home. Through the efforts of my Cold Case unit, as well as detectives from our State Police Unit and New Bedford Police, we were able to bring some relief to the victim’s family, who all suffered during the Last 20 years of not knowing what happened to Ms. Moniz.

Moniz’s father found her body in a pool of blood on the bathroom floor after picking her up for a doctor’s appointment, according to the district attorney. An autopsy report noted significant trauma to the victim’s head, including “skull fractures, gaping lacerations and other injuries that resulted in bleeding from both ears, broken nose bones and a broken cheekbone ”.

In 2019, Quinn’s Cold Case unit began reexamining Moniz’s murder and the evidence gathered at the scene, including a conch shell used to beat the victim.

“Autopsy photos of the victim’s face showed the victim had sustained numerous abrasions and bruises which suggest that the prickly exterior of the conch made contact with the victim’s face,” the office said. district attorney. “This suggested that the assailant would have to put their fingers into the opening of the conch to hold it firmly, as was necessary to strike the victim.”

DNA collected from the conch led to the half-brother, whose DNA was already in the system.

In August 2020, investigators attempted to question Reed at his Dartmouth residence, but he fled the state soon after. Law enforcement found him working in a lumber yard in Alabama, but he ran away again.

“Over the next year, the accused traveled to California, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island in an apparent attempt to evade authorities,” the press release continued. “He was captured on September 10, 2021, sleeping at the Providence Rescue Mission Shelter in Rhode Island.”

Reed was also charged in Massachusetts with assault with intent to murder and armed robbery in connection with the beating of Martinez-Alegria in 2003. On June 10, 2003, neighbors responded to screams after Reed allegedly hit the victim’s head with a tire iron, allegedly pushed her out of her truck and left her for dead. Reed also allegedly stole Martinez-Alegria’s wallet.

A month later, Reed tracked down the victim’s home, prompting family members to chase him in his vehicle, according to the district attorney. During his chase, Reed allegedly collided with a parked car. Martinez-Alegria’s relatives reported to an officer to join the chase, where Reed allegedly hit the police car head on and injured the officer. Reed was then arrested and identified by Martinez-Alegria as his attacker.

Reed never appeared in court and the beating charges were dropped after Martinez-Alegria’s death in 2015. He was, however, sentenced to three to four years in prison for the car accident in police and submit his DNA, which helped investigators. catch him for the murder of his stepsister.

Moniz’s older brother Fred Cunha spoke to NBC affiliate WJAR News 10 about the recent indictment. Although he hadn’t spoken with Reed in years, he remembered him as a porter at his sister’s funeral.

“We had other people that we thought it might be, who actually threatened Rose,” Cunha said. “It turned out that the person who carried her coffin to the grave was the person who killed her.”

David Reed is currently in custody for the 2003 attack, according to the district attorney’s office. An arraignment date for the charges related to Moniz’s murder has yet to be set.

“We will continue to use all available resources to review unresolved cases and seek new evidence,” Quinn said. “We look forward to pursuing this matter in open court. “

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