A man was arraigned on Friday for allegedly beating his half-sister to death with a conch shell and other items more than 20 years ago. It was a moment long in the making for David Reed, 53, who family says actually served as a pallbearer for the slain woman Rose Marie Moniz, 41.
“How could you kill your sister and carry her to her grave?” Moniz’s brother Fred Cunha told WCVB. “Sick.”
Reed was denied bail on Friday in a Fall River Superior Court in Massachusetts, and he had already been denied bail for allegedly trying to kill Maribel Martinez-Alegria during a robbery in 2003, according to The Herald News. Though the two cases are technically unrelated beyond the defendant, authorities say results from one helped them solve the other.
In both incidents, Reed allegedly attacked women in bloody fashion. The alleged motive: money.
Moniz’s father entered her home on March 23, 2001 to pick her up for a doctor’s appointment, but he found her in a pool of blood on the bathroom floor.
“Her purse was emptied out on the floor and an undetermined amount of cash was stolen,” Bristol County 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.”
The murder weapons were a conch shell, fireplace poker and cast-iron kettle, officials said. The case went unsolved for years, but a similarly violent alleged attack in the city of New Bedford established the foundation for Reed’s arrest in the Moniz murder.
Officials say he beat Martinez-Alegria on June 10, 2003 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.
More than a month later, during a police chase, Reed rammed his truck into a law enforcement car injuring Officer Alan Faber. Cops caught him, but he fled Massachusetts before trial in 2004. What happened next was a convoluted sequence of events that both stymied the Martinez-Alegria case but also lead to Reed being arrested for allegedly killing Moniz.
Reed lived on the run for a decade in Florida, Hawaii, and Alabama, officials said. Authorities caught him in 2015 but Martinez-Alegria had died just six months before that. Prosecutors dismissed the charges specific to her in 2016, citing lack of evidence, but they did charge Reed for attempting to flee from officers, ramming his truck into a police cruiser, and bail jumping. He was sentenced to three-and-a-half to four years in prison, hence his DNA’s inclusion in the CODIS database.
Investigators with the D.A.’s office and state police took another look at the Moniz murder in 2019, and they figured that because the conch’s spiny exterior made contact with her, then the killer likely put his fingers inside the shell opening to hold it. Authorities checked out the DNA, tested it, and matched it to Reed on CODIS, they said.
Not only did officials arrested Reed for allegedly murdering his half-sister, but they also brought back their case regarding Martinez-Alegria, bringing chargesf for armed assault with intent to murder and armed robbery
Speaking about the Moniz case, Reed attorney Frank Camera said he is confident his client will be acquitted, according to The Herald News. He entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Reed.
Camera asserted that the D.A.’s office “greatly exaggerated” the DNA results, and narrowly zeroed-in on “paternal Y-DNA.” Officers only got DNA from the conch shell, not the fireplace poker or cast-iron kettle.
“They say that a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich, and in this case David Reed is the ham sandwich,” he said.
[Image of Moniz via Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III; screenshot of Reed via WCVB]
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