Murder Case – Solved by the Shell

The Murder of Rose Marie Moniz – New Bedford, MA

One of my first real introductions to true crime, before the age of podcasts, was Forensic Files and this case would have been a great episode.

March 21, 2001 Rose Marie Moniz was found dead in the bathroom of her hom e at 3448 Achusnet Avenue in New Bedford by her father who came to bring her to a doctor’s appointment. Rose Marie was disabled and spent most of her time in her home. She lived with her son who was 19 at the time of the murder. The house was in disarray and her purse was emptied in the living room.

Cause of death of Moniz was found to be blunt force trauma – a fireplace poker, cast iron kettle and a conch shell were all weapons that were used in the assault that left Moniz with skull fractures, gaping lacerations, broken nasal bones, broken left cheekbone, and contusions all over her body. There was no sign of any forced entry.

Her son was a suspect for a short time but there was no evidence that he was involved in the assault. After that the case went cold.

Cold Case investigators many years later reexamined the case and made a crucial discovery. They were looking at the wounds and determined that the conch shell would have needed to be held with the hand in the inside in order to have provided enough force and to have lined up with the injuries. When they tested the DNA located inside the shell, they found a match. 20 years later, they had an answer.

The DNA matched her half-brother and the pallbearer at her funeral, 53 year old David Reed. Reed’s DNA was entered into the database in 2016 when he served 3.5-4 years on an unrelated crime. Rose Marie’s Parents died without knowing who killed her. Reed was also tied to a 2003 assault

Reed was finally arrested on 09/10/2021 and charged with Moniz’s murder and armed robbery, along with another robbery and assault that occurred in 2003. He is currently being held pending trial and has plead not guilty.

Rose Marie Moniz was laid to rest in Pine Grove Cemetery.

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The Burning Body – Bridgewater, MA

29 -year old Ashley Bortner was the youngest of 5 children, originally from New Jersey but moved to New England 3 years before her tragic death. Ashley was the mother of a 13 year old boy who was being raised by his grandmother since just after his birth due to Ashley’s substance abuse problems. She first moved to Providence Rhode Island where she had worked as an exotic dancer but quit no longer wanting to live that life. She moved to Hyde Park, and was focused on working as a waitress and other odd jobs. Friends said that Ashley was making good progress in her life until her boyfriend was released from jail.

On November 2, 2015 shortly after midnight, Dominic Owens was shot to death outside 15 Shepson Street Dorchester. Dominic had a violent criminal history and was the father of a 4year old son, who also took care of his mother. Evidence show that police believe that Ashley Bortner was present when Dominic was killed. 2 people were seen running from the scene.

At 11:40 pm on November 3, 2015, a neighbor in the area of the train tracks near Oak Street and Crapo Street in Bridgewater, MA called police for a fire near the tracks. They had previously seen two people at the scene. When police arrived they found the body of deceased female burned over 70% of her body. The body had arms and legs tied behind her back and she was gagged with clothing with a towel over her face. Police identified Ashley Bortner as the victim by her tattoos. Police believe that she was killed elsewhere and dumped in Bridgewater.

Quickly after, Police identified Fernando Owens, 47, as a person of interest in the case. There were reportedly 13 calls between Bortner and Owens in the day after Dominic’s death. A subsequent search warrant served at his home at 65 Lonsdale Street in Dorchester had several items linking him further to the crime. These items were an electrical cord similar to one she was tied with, and similar Egyptian towels to the one found on Ashley’s face. Two other suspects were suspected of helping with the crime through records uncovered, they were Julian Squires, 44 and Shannon Squires, 43.

Fernando Owens fled the country but was eventually found and extradited back.Fernando and Shannon Squires are still incarcerated and awaiting trial. Julian Squires was convicted of murder and kidnapping and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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The Murder of Shirley Branco Owen – Franklin, MA

Shirley Branco Owen was born on 02/13/1972 to Mary (Wade) Branco and the late Thomas F Branco. She was born and raised in Lawrence, MA, graduating from St Mary’s High School.

She met Brendon Owen in 1998 when they worked in the financial industry together at Fidelity. Shirley and Brendon were divorced and she lived with her two teenage children and her 74 year old mother, Mary, at 11 Grace Lane in Franklin, MA. This home was built during the marriage at the end of 2012 and the family moved in in 2013. Shirley retained the house in the subsequent contentious divorce which reportedly was filed for in 2014.

Shirley had been married to Brendon J. Owen, 47, of East Bridgewater for 11 years between 2003-2014 but had been divorced for over 5 years at the time of this incident. Despite the divorce being years in the past, there was trouble between the two which had lead to Shirley being granted a permanent restraining order. This restraining order was violated when it was found that Mr Owen had been communicating with his young son in November of 2021, and a hearing was pending.

Brendon Owen was highly educated but unemployed since losing his job as a portfolio analyst at John Hancock in 2016 due to developing a serious seizure disorder. Mark was on disability and lived with his mother in a 55 and over community.

At approximately 7:15 in the morning, after Shirley left to bring the children to school, Brendon Owens allegedly entered the property carrying a lead pipe and a hammer. He encountered Shirley’s elderly mother – reportedly calling her a C**t and other insults, blaming her for “taking his kids away”. He allegedly hit the elderly woman with a lead pipe, then bound and gagged her with duct tape in a bathroom located off of a bedroom before smashing her phone, warning her not to warn her daughter before proceeding further in to the house.

Against most odds, Mary escaped and was able to get to a neighbor’s house to call 9-1-1. Unfortunately, reports indicate Shirley returned home while Mary was escaping and that Mary could hear her daughter screaming but was unable to help her further. The 9-1-1 call was received at 7:40 am and the police responded quickly, arriving within minutes.

Upon arrival, police indicate locating Mr. Owens with lighter fluid, with the couch burning. He was uncooperative with police – spraying and lighting more of the lighter fluid and attempting to flee out of another door. Police had to pursue him and had to taser him to subdue him. Unfortunately, there arrival was not fast enough to save Shirley.

Shirley was found face down between the garage and the home. She suffered severe blunt force trauma to the back of her head and there was nothing that could be done to save her. Shirley was pronounced dead at the scene. Her injuries were significant – 5 areas of her skull had trauma, her jaw was broken, wounds on her legs, thighs, arms and hands and shoulders were noted at autopsy. She had post mortem burns.

When he was arrested, Brendon Owens had 2 notes, a checklist and lighter fluid in his possession. He had a black backpack containing blood stained hammer, blood stained lead pipe, zip ties, lighters, rolls of trash bags, pepper gels, head lamp, cutting tools, screwdrivers, a sort, hoodie, sweatpants, $500, and his license. He was even wearing an athletic cup, thinking clearly enough for self preservation if the victim fought back. He had blood on his hands , shoes and clothes.

The notes in his possession were reportedly addressed to his mother and his children. The contents have not been disclosed as this case is still pending.

A checklist was also present in his pocket – the checklist had directions to the Grace Lane home, and listed lighter fluid, shovel, plastic, black car flooring, lighter, flash, coat, shower, new sneakers, change of clothes, black wrap, lime, Gatorade and cough drops.

Mr. Owen’s mother’s RAV4 was found on nearby Mercer Street, and contained lime and garbage bags.

Reviewing the facts here, It’s going to be hard for defense to argue innocence or dispute premeditation since there were witnesses and he was caught in the act with the evidence. The significant amount of planning, and then contingency planning makes any temporary insanity defense difficult. It seems he planned throughly, even to going to bed early the night before and dressing all in black. He used her schedule with the children against her, attacking her elderly mother after she had left to drop the children at school.

The fire Brendon set spread rapidly and burned the house quickly and significantly damaged the home. What was left of the home was razed for safety. The children lost everything – their mom, their dog and their home with all of their possessions right before Christmas. A go fund me was posted and raised over $370,000. A link is below if anyone is interested in donating as I am sure this family will have ongoing needs to recover from this tragedy.

Shirley’s mother survived, but needed stitches for the wound on her head. Suffering the traumatic loss of her daughter and her home despite the fact that she tried so hard to save them, after being attacked herself.

Brendon Owens is currently facing Murder, Arson, Kidnapping, Home Invasion and Assault and battery charges. Bail has been denied. A scheduled hearing is set for April 4th. Will update as this case progresses.

Cold Case – Jane M. Gilboy Murder in Franklin, MA 7/18/1988

Jane Gilboy was a 64 year old bookkeeper for Camgear, a chemical company in Norfolk, MA. Born in 1924, She was a Navy Veteran and served during World War 2.

At the time of her death, Jane lived with a live-in boyfriend Leo Demille at 783 King Street Franklin, MA. She had been previously married but her husband, Richard Stephen Gilboy passed away 12/31/1979 at just 58 years old, leaving her widowed.

Jane spent the weekend vacationing with a friend in Cape Cod, returning Sunday night. Jane went to work as usual the next day 07/18/1988, and punched out around 4 pm. The details of her commute are known down to her route, and the fact that she stopped at a local convenience store as she frequently did on her way home.

Jane returned home and parked the car as usual and entered the house through the backdoor around 4:15 pm and it appears that was when she was attacked from behind. Jane has found by her boyfriend when he returned home just after 6 pm face down in the living room with her keys next to her. She had been brutally beaten, receiving a skull fracture from blunt force trauma and her throat was slit.

Jane’s purse and the murder weapons were missing from the scene. She was severely injured, and first responders were unable to save her. She was fully clothed with no reports of any kind of sexual assault.

There are no articles with any information on potential suspects, and this case is truly cold. Police have indicated they are people that the police believe might have information that are not cooperating. There was DNA tested in 2003 from a blood sample found, but the all that was released was that the “testing did not produce the expected results”.

If you have any information that could help solve this case, reach out to the Franklin Police Department at Telephone: (508) 528-1212.

Both Jane and her husband are laid to rest at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Franklin, MA.

The Murder of Jane Gilboy

The 1981 Murder of Lori Stewart

I would have expected more coverage on the story of Lori Stewart, and yet there wasn’t much more than the very basics available. True that some of the articles are probably available on microfiche somewhere but there was near nothing online. The only picture of Lori I could even find online was her yearbook picture from high school…that alone should be a crime based on how most people feel about their yearbook pictures, myself included.

Lori Stewart was born on the 20th of July, 1963. She lived on Pond Street in Bridgewater, MA and graduated from Bridgewater Raynham Highschool in June of 1981, the same high school class that Mary Lou Arruda would have graduated from.

She was last seen about 7 pm on the 6th of November, 1981. Some reports indicate she might have decided to hitchhike.

Lori’s body was recovered off of River Street in Middleboro the next afternoon, not far from the Bridgewater line. She was just 18 years old. Lori was nude with her clothes strewn around her with the exception of her blouse which seemingly was used to strangle her to death.

The strange part of this case is the truth was brought to light by a prison informant – and the prisoner was turning in people who were coming to visit him, rather than simply a cell mate. This suspect was Paul S. Reed.

Paul’s wife Nancy reported her car missing the night after the crime, and it was recovered November 9th, 1981 in Plympton in an area where Paul was known to frequent and where his aunt owned a house. The car was burned but a fiber from the vehicle later matched a rabbit coat that belonged to Lori, further helped to tie him to the crime. Reed was later arrested in North Carolina.

With the testimony of the former prison roommate, Paul S. Reed was convicted of first degree murder in this case – he later appealed and his conviction was reaffirmed after a new trial was granted because “heresay evidence” had been allowed during the first trial. This heresay evidence was the story told by Paul Reed’s wife, while Paul was not present, which detailed how Mr. Reed allegedly picked up Lori hitchhiking and forced her to perform oral sex before strangling her. This story was the “heresay” allowed in the first trial entitling Mr. Reed to a retrial, where he was convicted of first degree murder a second time.

Her remains were laid to rest at St Thomas Aquinas Cemetery in Bridgewater, MA.

Source Materials:

Harmony Montgomery

There seem to be a lot of these cases lately – where children were noted to be missing after a significant periods of time. I am not understanding this trend even in the age of Covid. In my experience, these cases don’t have happy endings. I have a bad feeling about this one as well, even if the Manchester, NH police chief insists that this case is still classified as a rescue and not a recovery. In my experience, they don’t dig for live people unless there’s a natural disaster or a building collapse.

So let’s talk about what is known in this case.

Crystal Sorey Email About Harmony Montgomery Shows Desperate Appeal for Action (

The last time Harmony Montgomery was seen was late 2019. Harmony is partially blind in her right eye and wore glasses. She has blond hair and blue eyes and is thought be around 50 lbs and 4 feet tall.

Harmony was last in school in 2019 in Massachusetts. The home were she lived at 77 Gilford Street in Manchester was sold in 2020 but was recently searched on January 2nd , 2022 by police. No current details of items recovered were release. That search of the home was reopened on over the next weekend of January 8 with heavy equipment including ground warming equipment was brought in. That search concluded with no details of any findings. Information developed later indicated the timeline of Harmony going missing would be between November 29th-Dec 10th, 2019 after the family were already evicted from the home.

Family members have indicated that Harmony was most recently in the custody of her father, Adam Montgomery but that he is not in touch with much of the family due to a falling out. I will say Adam has an extensive criminal record including charges of shooting another person in the face while buying heroin in 2014, as well as other charges dating back further including assualt, stalking and breaking and entering. Somehow, records indicate he was still given custody of Harmony from DCYF while her brother Jamison was separated from her and adopted.

Investigation is occurring as to whether whether appropriate checks were made after she returned to her father’s care in February of 2019 but it doesn’t seem likely as Harmony’s mother and grandfather report that they called DCYF more than 14 times and yet DCYF can’t verify seeing the child since 2019? Seems rather Sus…

Montgomery and Harmony’s mother, Crys Renee Sorey are no longer together, and she lives in Tampa, FL. She says she has reported been working on visitation but no contact was ever able to be made. Montgomery himself reportedly states that he dropped the child with her mother over a year ago and has not seen her since. He is separated from his new wife, Kayla, after stalking and domestic violence issues and seemed to be homeless, arrested sleeping in his car with his new girlfriend, Kelsey Small.

Former neighbors of Adam Montgomery have reported that he had been evicted last year from the home where he lived with his wife two sons and newborn baby. The neighbors report that they never saw Harmony and report that Adam did mention that her, and that her mother would not let him see her.

On January 6th, 2022 – 2 arrests were made in connection to Harmony’s disappearance. Not surprisingly, the arrests were her father Adam Montgomery and his wife Kayla Montgomery – who is not Harmony’s mother and is estranged from Adam.

Adam is charged on a 2019 warrant for second degree assault against Harmony (where he allegedly gave the child a black eye) and two misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child and one misdemeanor charge interfering with custody of Harmony. His next disposition conference is listed as scheduled for 03/04/2022.

Kayla Montgomery faces welfare fraud charges for collecting benefits for Harmony when she was not in the custody of the Montgomerys. Her next Dispoitional conference is set for 2/25/22. Kayla appealed for a lower bail but it continues to be set at $5,000 and she remains in custody.

I don’t expect Kayla Montgomery, as the estranged wife will go down with the ship if she has anything incriminating on Adam after all of the issues with stalking and domestic violence that she allegedly faced after their split. The added motivation of the charges she is facing being reduced will also be a good bargaining chip for police. Where there are two parties involved that have already had a volatile split that more information has not already come out.

Manchester police are accepting tips at 603-203-6060. The police and local business executives are offering rewards totaling $100,000.00 for information that leads to her recovery.

Court Records and Source Information related to Adam Montgomery, Next dispositional hearing is currently scheduled for March 4, 2022

010522Montgomery-ApptCounsel.pdf (

011022Montgomery-appearnye.pdf (

011022Montgomery-appearbuckley.pdf (

011022Montgomery-appearsmith.pdf (

010522Montgomery-Affidavit.pdf (

Superior Criminal Complaint (

Court Records and Source Information related to Kayla Montgomery, Next dispositional hearing is currently scheduled for 2/25/22:
011122MontgomeryK-affidavit.pdf (

Hit and Run? The Curious Case of Travis Monroe Worcester, MA

Travis Monroe was 17 years old and a junior at Burncoat Highschool in Worcester, where he lived all his life. Travis lived with his mother – and you would be hard pressed to find a mother that has pursued justice for her son as valiantly as Travis’s mother, Christi Berry has. Still this case remains unsolved.

The facts of the case are pretty straight forward , at 5:49 am on 10/01/2006 a teacher called 9-1-1 after seeing a person in the road. Travis was found dead on the road near Gunnarson Rd and Fales Street with blood coming from his ears, nose and mouth and his pupils fixed and dilated. It was believed he was struck walking home from a movie on Saturday night.

Where suspicion comes in is, several people indicated seeing Travis stumbling near the road prior to the 9-1-1 call. It is unknown if he was having a medical issue or was injured. Autopsy indicated that there was no drugs or alcohol in his system. His injuries were consistent with being struck by an automobile but Travis’s mother reported there has also been significant gossip about a planned attack on her son. The medical examiner has ruled the official cause of death as “undetermined” but caused by “blunt impact to the head” for which a vehicle could not be ruled out.

This case has sadly reached the statute of limitations as a Hit and Run case. His mother continues to pursue Justice for Travis and highlight his case in the media. She deserves answers, She deserves justice. If you know anything, please contact the Worcester Police department at 508-799-8651.

Elijah Lewis

When I see a face like this on a missing poster it brings me back to the Caylee Anthony Case. The innocent smile tugs your heart and you wonder what could have happened to such a sweet little one. I can’t for the life of me understand why these cases always end up with the most heartbreaking endings usually at the hands of people these children should have been able to trust to love them and care for them… certainly trust them not to murder them. Unfortunately, in this case, this is not how things unfolded.

Elijah Easton Lewis was born in Mesa, Arizona on January 7, 2016. A fourth child to his mother, Danielle Denise Dauphinais, also called “Dee” and the third child born to his father, Timothy Lewis. Danielle would have a total of 6 children.

I first came to be aware of this case when news broke that Elijah Lewis, age 5 was missing on October 14, 2021. Right away the story did not make sense – was he just missing? Was he missing a month? Was he missing 6 months? No one seems to know.. His mother was in a relationship with a man named Joseph “Jo” Stafp and they reportedly just had a newborn child that she dropped off at the hospital because she was unable to care for the child.

Surrendering the child led to CPS wanting to check on the status of the other children in the home. Dauphinais had several stories about Elijah’s whereabouts but refused to provide verifiable information. She had had custody for only a little over a year after his father sent him to live with his mother from Arizona on May 27th, 2020 after having custody of the child since he was one. I have not seen information as to why the custody switch occurred especially after court records indicate that Lewis felt that Dauphinais was an “implusive” and “violent” and was aware of her addiction issues. The decision seems to make little sense but I could find no sources with any further information on the father before or after the boy went missing. No public appeals. No interviews, Nothing. It’s also telling that in all of her frustration with Elijah, it’s not mentioned that she tried or intended to try to send him back to live with his father.

Danielle reportedly told friends and family that she was going to send Elijah to California to live with a friend or relative due to his “behavioral issues”, but apparently that never occurred. Dauphinais had previously given up the rights to 3 of her six children, and CPS has custody of the young daughter and newborn but Elijah was the only child that could not be accounted for. A friend of this so called mother indicated that Dauphinais told her that Elijah was “the next Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer” and admitted that she had no emotional connection to him and that she wanted him “gone”. She reportedly said to this friend, Erika Wolfe, that she kept Elijah in his room because she couldn’t trust him anymore.

A large scale search was made for Elijah, including extensive searching of the Sunset Drive property in Merrimack, NH where the family lived. Mom and her boyfriend, feeling the heat, skipped town as they were being pursued by the police for more extensive questioning in this case. The police were concerned quickly that the case was not going to have a happy ending.

A break in the case occurred when youths in Ayer, MA found a cell phone and turning it into authorities. This found provided invaluable information including the location information for where the phone had been and phone information on another phone that was used to track the whereabouts of the rogue parents. Dauphinais and Stapf were arrested in the Bronx on 10/17/21 and charged with child endangerment and witness tampering charges. Both have plead not gulty and they have their next court date scheduled this month. They are being held in jail until that time.

The cell phone location also lead the police to a small park in a rural neighborhood of Abington, MA. Searches of the park with Cadaver dogs lead to the discovery of the body, later identified with dental records as Elijah buried in a shallow grave. Cause of death for the child has not yet been determined however toxicology and more extensive autopsy studies are still being completed. It is expected that the charges will be upgraded in this case but without a certain cause of death it could be difficult to obtain the murder conviction(s) that I personally hope to see in this case.

Case Update #1 11/23/21 The medical examiner has come back with Elijah’s cause of death as violence and extreme neglect. His face and his head showed signs of trauma and his blood contained fentanyl . The saddest part yet is he had bed sores which suggests to me that this was serious, long standing abuse. I am hoping to hear very soon that the charges are upgraded to murder.

Case Update #2 12/28/21

Joseph Stump has requested and been granted a continuance until April 2022 due to the complexity of the case. There was no update on the charges against Danielle Dauphinanis – she was also scheduled for a Dispositional hearing on the 16th but I could find no documentation as to whether that hearing has occurred.

Holly Piirainen

New Hope in a Cold Case?

Holly Kristen Piirainen was born on 1/19/1983 and was the only daughter to Richard and Christina who also had two young sons.

August 5th, 1993 in Sturbridge, Holly Piirainen was just 10 years old when she went with her 5 year old brother to her grandmother’s neighbors to see some new puppies. When her brother returned without her, her family went looking but only found one red tennis show. The boy indicated Holly told him to go home – it is unknown if it was too save him from also being abducted. Despite the family’s immediate search, Holly had disappeared and was nowhere to be found. There was talk that her leaving behind of the shoe could have been intentional, as a sign she had been abducted.

2 16-year old girls up the street from Holly reported seeing a creepy man in a brown truck with a white cap on the street at the time of the abduction. He slowed down to a crawl and creeped them out by driving slowly by them multiple times. The girls noted that he headed up to where Holly had been and when he came back their way he didn’t slow. The truck was driven by a white, middle aged man with facial hair and a cap.

Holly’s skeletal remains were found by Hunters on 10/23/1993 in Brimfield, MA off 5 bridges Road, her cause of death has not been released by police.

More recently, Police have indicated that there has been evidence tying the case to a suspect named David Edmund Pouliot who died in 2003 of CHF/Diabetes but they have not released the details of that evidence. A body was exhumed in the case of a 22 year old named Noah Breaux who died of an overdose 4 years after Holly’s death. It’s been reported that there was a letter buried with Noah, however if there was a letter it seems to have been too deteriorated as nothing seems to have come of the exhumation.

Another person of interest in this case was Randy Stanger, who was also tied to the area. It is unclear if due to the above evidence if he has completely been ruled out in this case.

Holly was laid to rest at Fairview Cemetery in Grafton, MA.

Tragedy in Oxford, MA

Calm was shattered in the small town of Oxford, Ma when the police received 2 9-1-1 calls from the couple living at 234 Old Webster Street. Gun shots range out during the call and police found tragedy when they arrived at the scene.

The 4 bedroom home was shared by Jamie Dickenson, 34, known in the neighborhood as a mom who loved gardening and 38 year old JesseBrooks, an electrician. The couple had 2 children together and Jamie’s 13 year old son from a previous relationship.

The 13 year old boy was able to climb out the window with his 4 year old sister, and flee to the neighbors for safety. The neighbors also called 9-1-1.

By the time the police got there it was too late. Jamie Dickinson was found dead in the kitchen, and Brooks was found dead in the backyard from a self-inflicted gun shot wound. A 3 year old child was found in the house after the shootings but was physically unharmed.

Neighbors say they often heard the couple fighting but were shocked by the tragedy.

The children are reportedly now in the custody of relatives and are receiving trauma services. The couple’s 2 dogs have been taken by animal control.

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