PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Central Falls man suspected of killing a 10-year-old Pawtucket girl more than three decades ago returned to court Monday for a bail hearing.
Joao Monteiro, 59, was released from custody Friday night after the state unexpectedly withdrew its objection to bail. He had to surrender his passport before he could post the necessary funds.
“Based on the state’s continuing review of the evidence in this case, we can no longer reasonably detain or request that he be held without bail,” Assistant Attorney General Tim Healy said of the decision in court Monday. He later declined to elaborate outside court.
The state initially requested that Monteiro be held without bail following his arrest earlier in the week in the January 1988 disappearance of Christine Cole.
Cole’s family said the girl had gone out to buy some groceries for their dinner but never returned. Her body washed ashore at a Warwick beach nearly two months later.
Police said Monteiro’s arrest was the result of recent DNA testing.
Outside court on Monday, Monteiro’s defense attorney William Devine said his client denies any involvement in Cole’s death. Monteiro and his family declined to comment on the matter.
“He’s in shock,” Devine said. “It’s been a tough 72 hours for him. It’s been hard, it’s been hard on his family, so they’re all relieved right now.”
Monteiro signed a waiver of extradition and was given permission to leave the state for a “limited purpose.” Devine noted that his client’s family lives in Massachusetts.
“I would imagine that there is some economic concern,” Devine added. “We’re not sure if he has a job to go back to.”
The state has six months to bring the case to a grand jury.