Man Charged in Half-Sister's Death After DNA Pulled From Conch Shell Used as Murder Weapon

A Massachusetts man has been indicted 20 years after his half-sister's death thanks to a conch shell and a cold case unit, the Associated Press reported.

David Reed was indicted by a grand jury in the killing of Rose Marie Moniz in 2001. She was allegedly struck by a conch shell in her New Bedford residence, found by her father in a pool of blood. Reed was her half-brother and was identified after a cold case unit found his hair inside the shell. According to local news station WPRI 12, Reed was a pallbearer at Moniz's funeral.

"I'm pleased to announce the indictments related to the previously unsolved cold case homicide of Rose Marie Moniz," Bristol district attorney Thomas Quinn III said in a statement released Thursday. He described her as "a mother...brutally murdered inside the sanctity of her own home." He thanked the cold case unit, state police and the New Bedford police for their efforts.

Members of Moniz's family are speaking out about their complicated feelings toward the indictment. Her eldest brother, Fred Cunha, said that the suspect being his half-brother was a bitter pill to swallow. However, he is grateful that justice is finally being served.

"I always told my mother and father we're going to find out who it was," Cunha told WPRI 12. "I'm glad they're not here to know because that would have killed them."

Reed is in custody, with his arraignment date unknown.

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.

Gavel and Handcuffs
David Reed has been indicted by a grand jury in the killing of Rose Marie Moniz in 2001 in Massachusetts. She was allegedly struck by a conch shell in her New Bedford residence. iStock/Getty

It could not immediately be determined if Reed had an attorney.

Moniz's father had arrived to take her to a previously scheduled doctor's appointment, prosecutors said.

Investigators determined Moniz had been beaten to death with a fireplace poker, a conch shell and a cast iron kettle. Her purse was emptied on the floor and cash had been stolen, authorities said.

After police excluded two potential suspects early on in the investigation, the case went cold. It was reopened by the cold case unit in 2019.

The unit determined that injuries to the victim's face had been caused by the spiny exterior of the conch shell, suggesting the suspect would have had to have fingers inside the shell to hold it.

Reed has also been indicted in connection with the attempted murder and robbery of another New Bedford woman in 2003, prosecutors said.