Monsalve’s case will be one of few trials in Hawaii with no body found

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Update: A man accused of murdering Maui woman is scheduled to appear in a Sacramento courtroom later today.

Bernard Brown was arrested Friday for the murder of his former girlfriend Moreira Monsalve.

She disappeared in 2014 after dropping her son off at the University of Hawaii Maui Campus.

Her body has never been found.

Brown is being held at a Sacramento jail and is waiting extradition back to Maui.

Bernard Brown, the former boyfriend of missing Maui woman Moreira “Mo” Monsalve is awaiting extradition after being indicted by a Maui Grand Jury for her murder.

Monsalve was last seen at Brown’s home in Wailuku on Jan. 12, 2014.

Her body has never been found.

Alexis Felicilda said she believed Brown had something to do with her mother’s disappearance since she went missing.

“When you break it down the purse was found in the dumpster next to the house and when we first received his cellphone data, I mean logically everything was pointing to him,” she said.

She said Brown moved back to California three weeks after Monsalve went missing and that two new detectives recently started to help in the case which helped lead to Brown’s arrest on Friday.

“They took what [Detective] Satterfield had and they tried to create the complete picture and the complete case, the timeline, and putting everything together they worked really, really hard to build this case,” Felicilda said.

KHON2 asked if Brown had any idea police were looking into him or knew the arrest was coming.

“No, and that was the whole point we wanted him to think he got away with it,” Felicilda said.

Brown was indicted by a Maui grand jury for the murder of Monsalve. He was taken into custody by the FBI violent crime task force and Sacramento police in California. He’s being held on $1 million bail and will be extradited back to Maui.

“The fact that they have an arrest warrant and they’re ready to bring him back and extradite him means that Maui police was able to gather enough evidence to prove, at least by probable cause, that this is the person that committed the crime,” explained Honolulu attorney Megan Kau.

KHON2 asked why Brown was able to leave the state if he was a person of interest in the case.

“A person of interest is free to go wherever he or she chooses even if the person of interest is a suspect or believed to have done the crime,” she explained. “The government can’t hold you forever or five years while they’re continuing to investigate, so, unfortunately, they had to let the person of interest go to wherever he wanted to go.”

Kau said it’s difficult to try a case without a body too.

The last time it happened was in 2007 when Kirk Lankford was found guilty of the murder of Japanese citizen Masumi Watanabe.

“It was a very difficult case to prove for the government because there was no body and so you have to basically explain to the jury basically this is what we believe happened from this point to A to B to C and spell everything out,” Kau said.

She said the sentence for murder in the second degree is typically life with the possibility of parole.

Felicilda knows it is a long road and that not having a body is hard to prove in court.

“It’s the reason why when we were going forward I said, ‘We need to be on point with this,’ because it’s hard, it’s really hard. It doesn’t necessarily worry me, we have to be on point with this and all bases have to be covered,” she said.

Kau said the trial could take years until it begins.

“It’s never going to end,” Felicilda said. “In some sense, yes it’s closure, but it’s just the beginning for the rest of our lives that we’re going to be dealing with this.”

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