Charges dropped against suspect in Pawtucket cold case murder

Blackstone Valley

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A man arrested last year in the 1988 murder of a 10-year-old Pawtucket girl is no longer facing charges.

In a Providence District Court hearing Tuesday morning, Judge James Caruolo heard and granted the motion to dismiss filed last week by Joao Monteiro’s attorney William Devine. Assistant Attorney General Timothy Healy offered no objections.

Monteiro was not present in court.

Devine said the dismissal is without prejudice meaning there’s no statute of limitations and Monteiro could be charged in this case again if new evidence surfaces.

Monteiro, 59, of Central Falls, was arrested by Pawtucket police last July in the death of Christine Cole.

Cole went missing after she left her West Avenue home to pick up groceries in January 1988. Her body was found nearly two months later on the beach at Conimicut Point Park in Warwick.

DNA testing led police to Monteiro but he was released on bail the day after his arrest since the evidence was not sufficient enough to hold him, according to prosecutors.

The attorney general’s office said last week that it would not bring Monteiro’s case before a grand jury because the evidence doesn’t rule out other suspects.

“We are very respectful of their decision,” Detective Sgt. Christopher LeFort said. “We are going to continue to work the case and work with the attorney general’s office and hopefully then we can get this case solved.”

The district attorney’s office said while the Y-STR (short tandem repeat on the Y chromosome) forensic evidence didn’t exclude Monteiro, it “included all of his paternal male relatives.”

“There’s no other pieces of evidence that would corroborate even the Y-STR evidence,” Devine said over the phone Tuesday. “[My client] immediately denies these allegations and if this ever comes up again, we will fight it every bit of the way.”

After Monteiro was arrested, he lost his job of 13 years and moved in with his sister in Massachusetts. Devine did not say if he has plans to return to Rhode Island now that the charges have been dropped.

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