Man Charged in New Bedford Cold Case Conch Shell Murder
NEW BEDFORD — A 53-year-old SouthCoast man has been indicted for a previously unsolved New Bedford murder that saw Rose Marie Moniz bludgeoned to death with a fireplace poker, a conch shell, and a kettle in 2001.
Moniz' half brother David Reed, formerly of Dartmouth, Acushnet and New Bedford, was indicted last week by a Bristol County grand jury on murder and armed robbery charges, according to the Bristol County District Attorney's Office.
He was also indicted in September in connection to a 2003 attempted murder and robbery of another New Bedford woman, Maribel Martinez-Alegria.
The charges come as a result of a thorough re-examination of evidence by the District Attorney’s cold case unit.
On March 23, 2001, the victim's father entered her home at 3448 Acushnet Avenue to take her to a doctor's appointment — but he found items strewn around the house and her body in a large pool of blood on the bathroom floor.
New Bedford police found that she had died from blunt force trauma, with no sign of forced entry to the home.
After investigators excluded two potential suspects early on in the investigation, the case went cold.
But in 2019, cold case unit investigators saw abrasions from the conch shell used to bludgeon the victim's head suggested the perpetrator had to have put his fingers inside the shell.
Testing the inside of the shell revealed a full DNA profile that pointed to Reed, the D.A.'s office said.
In late August 2020 authorities interviewed Reed at his home on Milton Street in Dartmouth, which led to him fleeing the state and travelling to California, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
He was captured on Sept. 10 sleeping at the Providence Rescue Mission Shelter, according to the D.A.'s office.
At the time, he had just been indicted on armed assault and armed robbery charges in connection to the 2003 beating and robbery of Maribel Martinez-Alegria in New Bedford.
At around 10:45 p.m. on June 10, 2003, a man inside an Emma Street apartment heard a woman screaming for help at the nearby Oceanside Plaza.
When he opened the door, the man saw the victim, Martinez-Alegria, covered in blood.
She had been bludgeoned in the head with a tire iron and pretended to be dead before the assailant left the area, according to the D.A.'s office.
The victim told police that the perpetrator had taken her to a secluded area in his truck, where he beat her with a tire iron before pushing her out of the truck and leaving her bleeding in an isolated alley.
After the assault, the suspect allegedly stole her pocketbook.
In late July, Martinez-Alegria was at her Durfee Street home when she saw her attacker circling her neighborhood in his truck.
She immediately called a detective involved in her case as her nephew and five other family members jumped into their minivan to follow the suspect.
They followed him to near New Bedford High School when police caught up to them, at which point Reed allegedly crashed his truck head on into a police cruiser, injuring an officer.
Other officers arrived and Reed was taken into custody.
The D.A.'s office said Martinez-Alegria identified him as her attacker shortly afterwards.
Reed was charged with assault and robbery as well as ramming a police cruiser.
He was released on bail with a jury trial set for 2004.
But Reed did not appear for the trial, and had apparently fled Massachusetts, remaining on the lam for almost 10 years in Florida, Hawaii, and Alabama.
In May 2015 he was caught and sent back to Massachusetts, but Martinez-Alegria had died just six months prior and the assault and robbery charges were dismissed on insufficient evidence.
But Reed was convicted for felony bail jumping, attempting to flee from police and ramming a police cruiser, spending more than three years in state prison.
He was also required to submit a DNA sample to a state database, which ultimately connected him to his half-sister's murder years later.
Further evidence connected to the 2003 assault and robbery of Martinez-Alegria has also resulted in a renewed indictment for that case, according to the D.A.'s office.
“I’m pleased to announce the indictments related to the previously unsolved cold case homicide of Rose Marie Moniz," said Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn.
"She was a mother who was brutally murdered inside the sanctity of her own home. 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."