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DNA inside conch shell leads to arrest of Massachusetts cold case murder suspect

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That’s a shell of a good job.

Cold case detectives solved a 20-year-old murder in Massachusetts thanks to DNA they recovered from the inside of the murder weapon: a conch shell.

David Reed, 53, formerly of Acushnet and New Bedford, was indicted last week by a grand jury in connection with the death of Rose Marie Moniz inside her New Bedford home, according to Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn III.

Reed is Moniz’ half-brother, ABC News reported Friday. He also served as one of the pallbearers at her funeral, according to WPRI-TV.

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Moniz, 41, was found in a pool of blood on the bathroom floor on March 23, 2001 by her father, who had come to take her to a previously scheduled doctor’s appointment, prosecutors said.

She’d been beaten to death with a fireplace poker, a conch shell and a cast iron kettle, police said. Her purse was emptied on the floor and cash had been taken, cops said.

The investigation went cold until it was reopened by the cold case unit in 2019.

Rose Marie Moniz’s cold case was solved when authorities tested DNA samples from a conch shell used to kill her.
Shutterstock / luca85
An illustration of a DNA strand.
DNA from the conch shell ultimately led to David Reed being indicted for the gruesome murder.

Investigators figured out that injuries to Moniz’s face had been caused by the spiny exterior of the conch shell, suggesting the suspect would have had to have his fingers inside the shell to hold it, ABC News reported.

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Testing of the interior revealed a full DNA profile that was run through a national database and eventually led to Reed, prosecutors said.

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

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