Officer testifies in Bernard Brown murder trial: “He had scratch marks from his inner biceps to forearms.”
August 4, 2022, 7:11 PM HST
* Updated August 5, 3:13 PM
An officer with the Maui Police Department said Bernard Brown had “scratch marks from his inner biceps to his forearms.” It was an observation that Detective Michael Vaituulala made when he responded to a harassment complaint made by Brown in the days following Moreira “Mo” Monsalve’s disappearance in January of 2014.
Brown has pleaded not guilty to second degree murder in the disappearance and presumed death of Monsalve.
Detective Vaituulala, who was a beat officer at the time, met Brown fronting his ʻĪao Parkside residence in Wailuku on Jan. 15, 2014. Brown’s ex-girlfriend Moreira “Mo” Monsalve was last seen there on Jan. 12, 2014, and was reported missing by her daughter, Alexis Felicilda two days later, on Jan. 14.
In Brown’s complaint, he alleged that “Stacy and Susan Manini approached him fronting his residence and yelled, ‘You’re going to end up missing,'” Det. Vaituulala testified.
While responding to the report, the officer said he noticed multiple scratch marks on Brown’s arms. “It looked like fingernail scratches to me,” said Det. Vaituulala, who described the marks as “fingernail thick,” and said there were “at least 10 on each side, maybe more.”
“It was healing,” said Det. Vaituulala, who noted the observation in his police report, saying Brown was wearing a red tank top at the time. When asked why he did not take photos, the detective said he knew that Brown had already seen detectives, but did note the observation in his police report.
Susan Riley Manini, a longtime friend of Monsalve, described the missing woman as “super responsible.” She met Monsalve in the 80s and the two were friends for nearly 30 years.
According to Manini, she used Monsalve as a baby sitter, and the two attended each other’s family birthdays over the years. “She had an excellent relationship with her children. She cared for them well. They loved her a lot,” said Manini.
Manini learned of Monsalve’s disappearance through a friend who sent her a missing person poster of Mo. The next morning, Manini went to Brown’s apartment after learning of his apartment number through Mo’s daughter, Alexis. Manini was in the company of her husband Stacy, her husband’s co-worker, and her grandchild, who she was driving to school that morning.
According to Manini, her husband’s co-worker went to the door while she stood within six feet of him, her husband stood next to her, and her granddaughter waited in the car. According to Manini, Brown “jumped back and locked the screen door,” when he was questioned about Monsalve’s disappearance.
According to testimony, words exchanged included: “What’s the matter Bernard?… Why aren’t you coming to look with us for Morreira?”
Manini said there were no threats made.
When she left the area, she dropped off her granddaughter at St. Anthony School in Wailuku, and went home to Kīhei where she printed 100 posters.
The next day, on Jan. 16, Manini said she picked up a longtime friend from the homeless camp near Y Hata, to help her post missing person flyers in Wailuku.
According to Manini, she had specific areas in mind to search, and called this particular friend who was more familiar with Wailuku. They drove to the area near ʻĪao Parkside, but Manini said they noticed that it had already been canvased with flyers posted.
At that point, Manini asked her friend if she could come with her to Maui Disposal and walk up the Wailuku River mouth to see if they could find anything. She began to describe the clothing that their friend Monsalve was last seen wearing, including a pink Coach purse.
According to Manini, her friend started to cry. “I asked her not to cry, I needed help. She picks the purse up [inaudible] the car and said ‘I think this is her purse.’ I asked her where the heck she got the bag. I went back to Y. Haha and talked to the man she got the bag from,” Manini said during her testimony.
When asked where he found the bag, the man told Manini that it was found ‘in a dumpster by the park,’ according to Manini’s testimony.
“I asked him to get in my car and take me to the dumpster. He did,” she said.
According to Manini, she took a picture of the purse and sent to Alexis, asking her if it was her mother’s purse. Manini testified that Alexis was in Polipoli, in an area with poor cell reception, and asked that the photo be sent to a different number. When the purse was identified, Manini said she called police and they responded to Pāpōhaku Park.
Over the course of three days, the jury heard from an estimated 20 witnesses. There are about nine witnesses remaining, including Monsalve’s daughter, Alexis, and law enforcement personnel.
The trial resumes on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022 in 2nd Circuit Court before Judge Peter Cahill.