‘He was a target’: Pawtucket detectives hunt for killer in 1988 slaying

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PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – Days before the calendar turned to 1989, a young man’s body was found discarded among tires and trash on a dead end street in Pawtucket.

Jose “Charlie” Mojica was 22 years old. He had been shot multiple times.

“He was a target,” explained Pawtucket Police Detective Sue Cormier.

Mojica’s body was discovered on Branch Street, an isolated spot near the city’s border with Attleboro, quiet aside from the roar of an occasional train speeding over the elevated tracks.

Cormier wouldn’t say whether investigators believe Mojica was killed at the spot or dumped there later. She believes Mojica might have angered the wrong person.

“He lived over in Prospect Heights,” she said. “He had a few brushes with the Pawtucket Police, you know over the years. Not a bad guy, but sometimes he might have been a little bit of a tough guy and talked with the wrong person.”

Cormier said there was a party that Mojica attended a few days prior to his death. More than three decades later, she’s still hoping to talk to some of the people who were in attendance, hoping they might hold clues that will crack the case.

“Back then they may have been afraid to come forward for whatever reason,” she said. “As time has passed, when they realize we have not forgotten, the family has not forgotten, police haven’t forgotten, it’s still important to us to get the answers.”

For Mojica’s family, the 22-year-old’s death was a devastating blow. Hector Mojica, the victim’s nephew, grew up in the same home as his uncle and felt they were more like brothers. Hector said his uncle was a good guy with a lot of heart, but dabbled in drugs and sometimes ran in the wrong circles. Although Jose’s killer has never been charged, Hector said whoever is responsible will face their judgement before God.

“For anybody, it’s very difficult to lose a loved one, but then to lose that person and not know what happened or why, I think really makes it that much more difficult for the families,” Cormier said.

Cormier helped create the cold case playing cards to help drum up leads in cases like Mojica’s. His face and case information appears on the 10 of diamonds.

“There are some persons of interest then and now that will still be looked into a little further… and some witnesses we’d like to speak with,” she said. “We are still interested in hearing what they have to say and any information that they might have.”

If you have any information on this case you’re urged to call 1-877-RI-SOLVE (1-877-747-6583).

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