Rhode Island police make arrest in 30-year-old cold case

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PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Pawtucket police on Thursday made a massive break in a January 1988 murder of a 10-year-old girl and arrested a suspect in connection to the death, according to multiple sources.

Joao Monteiro, of Pawtucket, was arrested overnight in connection with the homicide of Christine Cole. She went missing after her mother asked her to leave their West Avenue home to get milk and clams for dinner.

The suspect is expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.

At the time of her disappearance, detectives were able to confirm Cole had made it to the market where she bought the milk and some gumballs. Later, she walked to a now-closed seafood market to pick up the clams, which was the last place she was seen.

Pawtucket Detective Susan Cormier said officers scoured the state for Cole, hoping to find her alive. After 54 days, a man walking his dog on a beach at Conimicut Point Park in Warwick noticed what he thought was a mannequin or doll in the sand.

“Sadly, that was little Christine Cole that had washed up onto the beach,” Cormier said.

In 2018, Cormier spearheaded a project to print a deck of cards with the faces of cold case victims on each card. She and other detectives hoped the cards would draw interest in the cases and uncover new leads.

Cole is the queen of Hearts.

“It’s very personal to me,” Cormier added. “I’m a mom. She’s a little girl. Her life was taken too soon.”

When Eyewitness News spoke to Cormier in 2018, she said she hoped to solve Cole’s case.

“There’s a lot more we can do with this,” Cormier said. “Testing evidence. Retesting evidence. Talking to more people. I’ve spoken to many people already but I’m going to continue with those interviews. This is a solvable case. We still have a lot to work with.”

This story is developing and will be updated with the latest information.

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