After 20 years, Massachusetts authorities say they’ve solved a 2001 cold case murder. The break in the case arrived when investigators took a second look at one of the murder weapons and the alleged killer’s connection to a separate attack on another woman, according to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office.
David Reed, 53, allegedly beat his half-sister Rose Marie Moniz, 41, to death in 2001 with a fireplace poker, cast iron kettle, and — most critically for the case — a conch shell, the DA’s office said. Prosecutors have also secured an indictment against Reed in the other case — the beating and robbery of Maribel Martinez-Alegria. The 2003 attack on Martinez-Alegria involved a tire iron and the snatching of a purse.
According to authorities, Moniz’s father entered her home on March 23, 2001, to pick her up for a doctor’s appointment. He found the victim in a pool of blood on the bathroom floor. Cops subsequently discovered the three murder weapons.
“Her purse was emptied out on the floor and an undetermined amount of cash was stolen,” prosecutors said. “The autopsy report described significant trauma to her head including skull fractures, gaping lacerations and other injuries that resulted in bleeding from both ears, broken nasal bones; and a broken left cheek bone. The medical examiner also noted multiple contusions resulting from blunt trauma all over her body. Police noted that there was no sign of forced entry into the home.”
Moniz’s family mourned, and among them was Reed. Reed served as a pallbearer at her his sister’s funeral, her brother Paul Cunha told Boston ABC affiliate WCVB in a new interview. Cunha said he did not initially suspect Reed, but when asked, he described the defendant’s behavior at the time as unusual.
“Very quiet, unusually quiet,” Cunha said. “And then pretty much after that, he disappeared.”
The case hurt the family profoundly.
Cunha said the murder aged his parents “overnight.” They died without ever learning who killed Moniz.
“Rosie had a big heart,” sister Kim Pacheco said. “She loved everybody.”
The case went cold after investigators excluded two possible suspects, but in 2019, the D.A.’s office and state police took another look by zeroing in on the conch shell. Based on abrasions and contusions on Moniz’s face, they suggested that the item’s spiny exterior made contact with the victim. Thus, they posited, the killer likely put his fingers inside the opening of the shell to hold it. DNA testing on the interior of the shell resulted in a full DNA profile.
“This profile was then entered into CODIS and hit to David Reed, the victim’s half-brother,” prosecutors said. “Testing of samples from underneath the victim’s fingernails also determined that Y-STR DNA from the defendant’s male family tree was found. Y-STR DNA technology is used as an investigatory tool.”
The DNA profile led to Reed’s information CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System, authorities said. The defendant’s genetic information was already in the system in connection with the Martinez-Alegria attack in 2003.
Reed allegedly beat Martinez-Alegria on June 10 of that year while she was seated in his truck. He shoved her out of the vehicle, stole her pocketbook, and left her bleeding badly in a dark alley in New Bedford, prosecutors have alleged.
According to prosecutors, Martinez-Alegria was at her home the following July 31 when she saw the defendant circling her neighborhood. She told relatives and tried to call a detective in her case.
“While she was doing that, her nephew observed the truck drive by her house a second time,” prosecutors said. “At that time, her nephew and five others individuals jumped into their minivan to follow the suspect’s truck. As they got into the minivan, the suspect drove by the home a third time allowing them to catch up to the truck. The nephew later told police that the suspect became nervous as the minivan began to follow him and attempted to lose them.”
The relatives flagged down the police, and an apparently wild pursuit ensued. Reed tried to flee. In the process, he struck a parked vehicle and eventually slammed head-on into a a police cruiser vehicle, injuring Officer Alan Faber.
“Even after the crash, the suspect attempted to use his truck in an attempt to push the cruiser out of the way to facilitate his escape,” prosecutors said.
Officers managed to catch him, and he was subsequently charged.
Prosecutors now say the raucous events of July 31, 2003, in connection with the Martinez-Alegria attack — and the subsequent mayhem — turned out to be pivotal in the Moniz murder.
According to the authorities, Reed fled Massachusetts before his 2004 trial in the Martinez-Alegria case. He lived on the run for a decade in Florida, Hawaii, and Alabama, prosecutors said. Investigators managed to catch him in 2015, but by then, Martinez-Alegria had died in Boston just six months before Reed’s arrest. Charges connected to the Martinez-Alegria assault and robbery were dismissed due to a lack of evidence in 2016. In the meantime, prosecutors charged Reed for trying to flee from the cops, ramming his truck into the police cruiser, and bail jumping. He was sentenced to three-and-a-half to four years in prison on those charges, and he had to submit to a DNA test for the CODIS database as a result of the conviction.
Authorities say those DNA tests linked Reed to the Moniz murder.
Citing newly obtained evidence, prosecutors have also resuscitated the charges related directly to the attack on Martinez-Alegria.
Once again, however, prosecutors say Reed did not quietly submit to the long arm of the law. When investigators tried to confront the defendant at his home in late August 2020, he almost immediately fled to Alabama, authorities said.
“During the next year, the defendant travelled to California, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island in an apparent attempt to elude authorities,” prosecutors said. “He was captured on September 10, 2021 sleeping at the Providence Rescue Mission shelter in Rhode Island. At that time, he had just been indicted in Bristol County on charges of Armed Assault with Intent to Murder and Armed Robbery in connection to the 2003 beating and robbery of Maribel Martinez-Alegria in New Bedford.”
After 20 years, prosecutors believe they now have the chance to close the book on not one, but two brutal attacks. Despite the passage of time, the loss is painful for Moniz’s loved ones.
“He took one of my best friends, my sister,” Cunha said of Reed. “He robbed us all of a life of growing old together.”
The case is proceeding in the Fall River Division of Bristol County Superior Court, the prosecutor said; however, the new indictment has not yet been scheduled for arraignment. The defendant remains jail on charges connected to the Martinez-Alegria attack.
[Image of Moniz via Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III; screenshot of Reed via WCVB]
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