Half-Brother Charged in 2001 Cold Case Murder, Thanks to DNA Found Inside a Conch Shell: Prosecutors

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The cold case involving the death of a Massachusetts woman has been solved more than 20 years later, all thanks to the unlikely DNA found inside the conch shell used to kill her, authorities said. Forty-one-year-old Rose Marie Moniz, of New Bedford, died in March 2001 after being bludgeoned with the conch shell, along with a fireplace poker and cast-iron kettle, authorities said.

Her half-brother, David Reed, now 53, is now facing a murder charge in connection with her death. His DNA had been found on the conch shell used to kill Moniz, authorities said.

“She was a mother who was brutally murdered inside the sanctity of her own home,” Bristol Country District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said in a 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.”

She had been discovered dead that morning by her father, who came to her home to take her to a doctor’s appointment. He found her in a pool of blood on the bathroom floor after he noticed kitchen items and the contents of her purse all over the floor.

In 2019, a cold case unit reviewed the case, including crime-scene photos that showed an imprint of the conch shell on her face. They determined that in order for Moniz to have been bludgeoned by the conch shell, her assailant would have had to reach inside the conch shell.

Upon testing for DNA on the inside of the conch shell, they found a positive match to her half-brother, Reed, authorities reported.

Reed had submitted DNA in 2016 after another conviction landed him in state prison.

Authorities reached out to Reed in August 2020, and he allegedly fled to Alabama, then California, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island shortly after, authorities said. Authorities eventually caught up to him in September 2021 at a homeless shelter in Rhode Island.

Reed is now facing charge of murder and armed robbery in connection with her half-sister’s slaying. He is also facing charges in a 2003 attempted murder and robbery of another New Bedford woman, who has since died.

Reed is currently being held in jail, with no arraignment date currently scheduled. 

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