NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — After 20 years, new DNA evidence has linked a man to a previously unsolved homicide in New Bedford, according to the Bristol County District Attorney’s office.
David Reed, 53, was indicted late last month on a murder charge connected to the brutal beating death of Rosemarie Moniz inside her Acushnet Avenue home on March 23, 2001.
Reed is Moniz’s half-brother, and her family tells 12 News he served as a pallbearer at her funeral.
Fred Cunha, Moniz’s eldest brother, said the news that his half-brother is being accused of his sister’s murder is a bitter pill to swallow.
Cunha’s father had an extra-marital relationship and fathered two sons, including Reed, when he and his five siblings were still young. He said they treated the two boys like family, and did not initially suspect Reed could be involved in his sister’s death.
“I always told my mother and father we’re going to find out who it was,” Cunha said. “I’m glad they’re not here to know because that would have killed them.”
Moniz’s father was the one who discovered his daughter’s body. Investigators found no signs of forced entry into the home, but noted she had been robbed. She had also been beaten with multiple objects, including a conch shell, which proved to be a critical piece of evidence.
Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn told 12 News his investigators took a closer look at the shell in 2019 and theorized that whoever wielded the weapon would have put their hand inside of it.
New testing inside the shell revealed David Reed’s DNA, according to Quinn. They also found a partial match underneath Moniz’s fingernails.
Quinn said Reed’s DNA sample was on file with authorities following his arrest and conviction in 2015 on charges connected to a 2003 pursuit and crash with a police cruiser.
At the time, Reed had been fleeing authorities who were looking to arrest him for another brutal beating of a woman in a New Bedford shopping plaza. Before he could go to trial in 2004, Reed posted bail and disappeared for 11 years, according to Quinn.
This fall, Reed was once again apprehended and has now been charged in connection with the 2003 assault and the 2001 homicide.
For Moniz’s family, the news brings them one step closer to closure.
Her son, Robert, was 18 at the time and still living at home. He said he had arrived back at the house late at night after an evening out with friends.
Robert went up to bed without knowing his mother had already been murdered. The next morning, he woke up to his grandfather’s voice.
“I woke up to him screaming, ‘Your mother’s dead, your mother’s dead!” he said, recalling the gruesome scene they discovered in the home’s bathroom. “I couldn’t even kiss her, but I remember just kneeling down on the side next to her rubbing her leg and that … what I saw, you can’t get that out of your mind.”
With no signs of forced entry into the home, early suspicion fell squarely on Robert.
“It was one of the worst feelings for me,” he said. “Thinking about that and thinking I might possibly go to jail for something like that. It almost got in the way of me grieving for her properly.”
If convicted of the crime, Reed faces life in prison.
Quinn said keeping fresh eyes on cold cases like Moniz’s is a priority, both to ensure justice is served and to provide the victims’ families with answers.
“The effort that goes into these cases is extraordinary; this isn’t resolved in a weekend or a week,” he said. “It’s a combination of old-fashioned police work with DNA testing that has resulted in this defendant being charged in this murder. We look forward to prosecuting him in court.”