By Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2020

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) - An attorney for a man arrested in connection with the disappearance and death in 1988 of a 10-year-old Rhode Island girl filed a motion to have the case dismissed.

Joao Monteiro, 59, of Central Falls, was tied to the death in January 1988 of Christine Cole, of Pawtucket, through modern DNA technology testing not available at the time of the killing, Pawtucket Detective Sue Cormier said at a news conference following his arrest in July.

But the case never went to a grand jury to seek an indictment.

“This whole situation is very unfortunate,” William Devine, Monteiro’s attorney, told The Boston Globe on Thursday. “It appears to me that they just don’t have the evidence.”

The arrest, Devine added, “was absolutely premature, and a case never should have been brought against this man the way it was brought.”

The arrest warrant cited DNA testing that connected Monteiro to the blood found on Christine’s pants. It was a type of partial match that makes it possible to narrow down potential suspects, but doesn’t pinpoint an individual, forensic scientist Elaine Pagliaro told The Boston Globe.

The motion to dismiss will be heard Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter Neronha confirmed, but she declined to comment until the court appearance.

Detective Cormier reopened the case shortly after she created a series of playing cards featuring unsolved Pawtucket cases on them. Christine was the Queen of Hearts.

“This one had particular meaning to me because she is a child, I am a mother,” Cormier said then. “They are all important, but this one was really important to me.”

Monteiro and Christine did not know each other, but lived in the same Pawtucket neighborhood at the time, Cormier said.

Christine was last seen when she was sent to the store to buy milk. Her body was found nearly two months after she disappeared by a man walking his dog on a beach at Conimicut Point Park in Warwick. A medical examiner determined she had died of “asphyxia with submersion.”

Monteiro denied knowing Christine or being responsible for her death, according to the arrest warrant.

Cormier did not respond to requests for comment Thursday from The Boston Globe.

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