DNA Suggests Her 2001 Killer Was Also a Pallbearer

Investigators say David Reed beat his half sister to death with a conch shell
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2021 12:34 PM CST
Cops: DNA in Conch Shell Solves Old Murder Mystery
Investigators determined that killer must have put his fingers deep inside the conch shell.   (Getty Images/Arnav Pratap Singh)

After Rose Marie Moniz was found dead in a pool of blood in her New Bedford, Mass., home in March 2001, investigators determined the 41-year-old had been beaten to death with a fireplace poker, a cast-iron kettle, and a conch shell. Investigators say DNA evidence from the last item has helped catch her killer after more than 20 years. David Reed, the victim's 53-year-old half brother, was charged with murder and armed robbery after cold-case investigators determined that Moniz's injuries suggested the killer would have had to put his fingers deep inside the shell to strike her "with extreme force," the Washington Post reports.

Investigators asked the crime lab to test the inner areas of the shell. A DNA match was found for Reed, who had been ordered to submit a DNA sample to a state database in connection with a 2003 assault and robbery. In the 2001 investigation, officers determined that money had been taken from Moniz's purse but there was no sign of forced entry to her home. Relatives say Moniz was one of six siblings and Reed was one of the pallbearers at her funeral, CBS reports. Her eldest brother, Fred Cunha, says he promised his parents the killer would be found—but he's "glad they're not here to know because that would have killed them."

Moniz, a single mother, was "brutally murdered inside the sanctity of her home," tweeted Bristol County DA Thomas M. Quinn III. "For two decades her family suffered through the trauma of her horrific death and the pain of not knowing who committed this extremely violent attack on her." The DA"s office says it is reviewing "every item of evidence from every homicide over the last 45 years" to see if advances in forensic technology can solve more cold cases. (More DNA evidence stories.)

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