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Investigators in Massachusetts claimed this week that they have solved the 30-year-old cold case murder of a teenager, resulting in a murder charge decades later for the victim's foster sister's boyfriend at the time.
Rodney Daniels, 48, was arrested in Georgia on Monday after a grand jury indicted with murder on last week for the 1991 murder of Patricia Moreno, according to a press release from the Middlesex District Attorney’s office.
The 17-year-old girl had been shot in her head outside the Malden apartment where she lived with her foster family on July 20, 1991. She was found “alone, face down, on the third-floor fire escape landing, still breathing but seriously injured” in the middle of the night. Daniels, who was dating her foster mom’s daughter, told police at the time that he'd found her there. She died the following day having sustained an “irreversible brain injury” as a result of the gunshot wound.
Moreno’s foster mother, Daniels and Moreno's two teenage foster sisters were all at the apartment during the shooting. Police interviewed Daniels at the time, who they said claimed that he had been sleeping in an armchair in the living room when he was awakened by the sound of two gunshots; he subsequently walked out onto the fire escape where he located the victim, he'd said, according to the press release.
Police later learned that Daniels owned multiple handguns around the time of the murder, according to the DA's office.
“Further investigation also revealed that Daniels had engaged in threatening behavior toward the victim in the weeks before her death,” the press release states. “Numerous parties were interviewed over the course of many years but no arrest was made in the case.”
In 2020, investigators returned to the scene of the crime where they reconstructed the position of the slain teen on the third-floor fire escape. They determined that the path of the bullet was "consistent with having been fired by an individual standing in the area of the doorway to the apartment, where the victim had resided with her foster family, and where Daniels had been staying that evening.”
A witness, who lived in another apartment in the building, has also told investigators that on the night of the murder they saw someone who looked like Daniels out on the fire escape after hearing a loud sound.
“After three decades we have taken the first steps today to hold accountable the person who we allege took Tricia’s life. It is always with mixed emotions that we make these announcements as we know this will not fill the void caused by the loss of a daughter, a sister, and a friend to many,” said District Attorney Marian Ryan.
“I do hope, however, that it brings hope to some of the families who are still awaiting answers. This is a case that was solved not by a new development in forensic science, but as a result of relentless investigative work and a change in circumstances for some parties involved,” Ryan added.
It’s not clear if Daniels has obtained an attorney to speak on his behalf.
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