By Brian McCready
MILFORD — The Kelsey Monahan murder is in the national spotlight tonight and new details about her death are emerging including the revelation the Police Department investigation is still open and active.
On Sept. 25, 2013 Monahan’s killer, Luis Rodriguez was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Monahan, who was a month pregnant was beaten and strangled in her Wildemere Beach apartment on May, 25, 2001.
Her wrists and feet were tied with a rope that also went around her neck. Monahan would die three days later at Bridgeport Hospital. The official cause of death was strangulation.
The murder case is front and center tonight as the Investigation Discovery Channel filmed an episode of the case in March in Milford as part of its “Nightmare Next Door” series. The show airs tonight at 10 p.m. on the Investigation Discovery Channel and the episode is called “Memorial Day Murder.”
The men responsible for the arrest
Police Chief Keith Mello credited Det. Sgt. Douglas Youd and his determination for solving the case.
While it appeared the criminal case ended with Rodriguez’s sentencing that is not true, Mello said. Rodriguez’s girlfriend, who previously dated Kelsey’s husband, Matthew, remains a suspect.
“The Police Department still considers her a suspect with an undetermined involvement in the crime,” Mello said. “She knows more than she told us. She may one day be arrested.”
Mello said the facts are the girlfriend led Rodriguez to the Monahan’s house, her car was at the scene and a female was reported to be driving the car.
Police had a suspect early on
When the murder first happened, neighbors were anxious concerning whether it was a random homicide or whether the individual knew the Monahans. Police couldn’t tell the public what they knew, but that had a suspect from the beginning. To be cautious police kept a presence in the neighborhood for days after the crime.
Three days prior to the homicide, Rodriguez visited Matthew Monahan at his house. He was told by his girlfriend that Matthew Monahan owed her $1,100, Mello said. Matthew denied owing his ex-girlfriend any money and Rodriguez left without incident. But Matthew Monahan went to police headquarters and filed a report.
“The speculation is he returned forcefully to take the money,” Mello said. “Kelsey was found hogtied and she was struck on the head and beaten up. He’s an animal.”
While police had a suspect from the beginning, the case was problematic to prove.
“It was pretty quick, we were convinced of Rodriquez’s involvement,” Mello said.
Police travelled to several states to gather evidence to present to a grand jury. Rodriguez was from Missouri and went back there after the homicide.
“It didn’t take 10 years for us to solve it, it took 10 years to build a case,” Mello said. “There was no real forensics and no confession.”
“We never had a big lead,” added Mello. “It was all little pieces. It was the tenacity of the investigator Sgt. Youd that led to this case being solved.”
Youd said speaking with Kelsey’s family, including her mother Joan Dunnder, was tough at times.
“The family was not always happy with why we didn’t have this solved,” Youd said. “It was hard because they wanted an arrest right away. We had to deal with probable cause.”
Mello said the department allowed Youd to work full-time on the case, which is a rarity these days. He said Youd would not be deterred in solving this case.
“I wanted a marine on the case. I knew he’d solve it,” Mello said. “This case was never cold. It was always being investigated by Sgt. Youd.”
“I wanted to solve this case for the family,” Youd added.
Mello said everyone thought Matthew killed his wife.
“We look at anyone with an opportunity to commit the crime and he was the last one to see her and he found her,” Mello said.
Matthew told police he went out for 45 minutes and found his wife barely alive. They had just celebrated their second anniversary and were both excited about being parents. After Kelsey’s death, Matthew went into a deep depression and had an 11-year battle with alcoholism.
“We put him through an extensive interrogation repeatedly and he never refused to be interviewed,” Mello said. “He never wavered. He always answered our questions. He never got an attorney.”
Mello said Matthew Monahan was removed early on as a suspect, but police were not able to release that information to the public.
Mello said police also had to consider if Matthew was indirectly tied to the crime because he has a past relationship with Rodriguez’s current girlfriend prior to meeting Kelsey.
“Kelsey was by all accounts the best thing that ever happened to Matt,” Mello said.
Kelsey worked as a chemist in Stratford. During Rodriguez’s sentencing, Matthew, said Kelsey was a loving wife and she looked forward to being a mother.