Suspected ‘Conch shell killer’ sentenced to prison for unrelated tire-iron assault
Former Dartmouth resident David Reed, 54, who is suspected to have murdered his half sister with a conch shell and other household items in 2001, has now been sentenced to prison for a separate attack on a New Bedford woman in 2003.
Reed pleaded guilty to charges of armed assault with intent to murder, armed robbery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to serve eight to 12 years in state prison, according to Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn.
In the 2003 case, Reed took New Bedford resident Maribel Martinez-Alegria to a secluded area in his truck and bludgeoned her over the head with a tire iron before stealing her pocketbook. He then pushed the victim out of the truck and left her bleeding and alone in a dark alley, the D.A.’s office said.
The assault took place on June 10, 2003.
Around a month later, Alegria saw her attacker circling the neighborhood in his truck. Immediately, she told her family members and tried to call the police.
When her nephew saw the truck pass in front of the house again, several of the family members rushed to their minivan to follow it. Reed passed the house a third time as they reached their vehicle, making it easy for them to follow him.
Alegria's family were able to signal to a police officer as they passed New Bedford High School, still following Reed’s truck in their van. The officer called for backup.
Soon the suspect came upon a police cruiser traveling the opposite direction with its lights and sirens on. As the officer moved to block the truck, Reed rammed him head-on — injuring the officer — and tried to push the cruiser out of the way.
Despite the escape attempts, Reed was apprehended and identified by Alegria as her attacker.
Reed was charged for the robbery and assault of Alegria and for ramming the police cruiser. He was released on bail with his trial scheduled for June 10, 2004.
But Reed never appeared in court as he had already fled the state. He remained on the run for almost 10 years, living in Florida, Hawaii and Alabama, according to the D.A.’s office.
Reed was finally captured and returned to Massachusetts to face trial on May 7, 2015. But the assault and robbery charges had to be dropped because Alegria — the victim and key witness — died six months earlier.
Reed still faced charges for ramming the police cruiser and felony bail jumping, though, and in 2016, he was sentenced to three-and-a-half to four years in state prison.
After his conviction, Reed had to submit a sample of his DNA to the state database, which ultimately led to his indictment for the “conch shell murder” last year.
During the ensuing years, investigators were able to corroborate details from the 2003 assault “through a number of witnesses and other sources” many of whom told them that Reed had admitted to the assault himself, according to the D.A.’s office.
“The defendant brutally assaulted the victim with a tire iron, causing serious injuries that could have resulted in her death. He then fled the state to avoid prosecution until he was arrested in Alabama in 2015 and returned to Massachusetts,” District Attorney Quinn said. “Unfortunately the victim died shortly before his arrest, but I hope this sentence brings some solace to her relatives and friends that justice was finally served.”
Reed is also currently awaiting trial connected to the March 2001 New Bedford cold case homicide of Rose Marie Moniz.
Reed was indicted in the 2001 case after his DNA was discovered inside a conch shell that was used to bludgeon the victim.