Investigation Discovery to air piece on 2001 Milford murder

A 2001 murder that Milford police doggedly pursued for years, bringing the suspect to trial, and ultimate conviction in 2013, will be the subject of an Investigation Discovery episode Thursday, April 14, at 9 p.m.

The episode, Screams of Silence, is part of Investigation Discovery’s Motives and Murders: Cracking the Case series, and focuses on the murder of Kelsey Monahon, who was beaten and strangled at her home along Milford’s shoreline in 2001.

“Newlyweds Kelsey and Matthew Monahon are building their dream home in the picturesque seaside town of Milford, Conn.,” states an episode description. “But their idyllic story is cut short when Matthew discovers his pregnant 28-year-old wife hogtied on the floor and clinging to life. A few days later, both Kelsey and their unborn child die at the hospital, and that's when the assault becomes a murder investigation.

“It will take a surprise confession and more than a decade before investigators can arrest Kelsey’s murderer,” the description reads.

This is the second time Investigation Discovery has done a piece on the Milford murder. The first aired in 2014.

The upcoming episode includes interviews with Matthew Monahon, Kelsey’s husband, Joan Dunnder, Kelsey’s mother, and others.

Milford police Chief Keith Mello said the department did not participate in the program, though some retired officers did take part and will appear in it.

The murder
Kelsey Monahon was found beaten and strangled in her Bittersweet Avenue home on May 25, 2001. She died three days later.

Although Milford police were on the trail of her suspected murderer early on in the investigation, it took years and persistence to bring the case to trial because of the lack of forensic evidence, Chief Mello said.

In September 2013, Luis A. Rodriguez, who lived in Missouri, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in jail for Kelsey Monahon’s death. According to the prosecutor in the case, Rodriguez was involved with a woman who once dated Kelsey's husband, and who claimed that Matthew Monahon owed her money.

On that evening in 2001, Rodriguez went to the couple’s Milford home to get the money, but instead of the husband he found Kelsey Monahon at home, various news reports state. He beat her, hogtied her with a rope that stretched from her legs to her neck, and took $1,100 or $1,200 from a safe in the house.

Matthew Monahon found his pregnant wife at 7:46 p.m. when he returned home after a 45-minute absence. She was unconscious, and died three days later at Bridgeport Hospital.

Milford police detectives, with assistance from the Milford state’s attorney’s office, worked on the case continually and diligently for nearly 10 years, conducting more than 100 interviews.

Mello credited Detective Sgt. Douglass Youd for the ultimate prosecution of Rodriguez.

“Doug Youd, he lived this case,” Mello said recently.

Matthew Monahon suffered for many years as public opinion kept him on a list of suspects. But police had eliminated him as a suspect early on “because it was clear he had nothing to do with her death,” Mello said. He added, “Matt was very cooperative. I hope no one paints him as a party to this.”

The Investigation Discovery program delves into some of the reasons Matthew was initially questioned by police regarding the murder and re-creates local scenes and parts of the investigation, as well as the night of the murder.
Case solved, but one piece remains
While the case is over, with Rodriguez in jail, there is still one piece of the puzzle that local police would like to see resolved. They believe that a former Milford woman, who is now 55, played a role in the murder. But police have never been able to prove that theory.

Matthew Monahon had been living with the woman when he met Kelsey and ended his relationship with her, local police said. Then the local woman became involved with Rodriguez while he was serving time in jail on other crimes.

When Rodriguez got out of jail, he went to meet with the woman. He was in need of money, and although her and Monahon’s relationship had been over at least two years, the woman told Rodriguez that Matthew Monahon owed her money, according to Youd.

Rodriguez went to the Bittersweet home two days before the murder and confronted Matthew Monahon, according to Milford police.

Police said that Rodriguez later told them that the woman they still consider a big piece of the puzzle had driven him to the Monahons’ home on that occasion and on the night Kelsey was murdered.

“Luis said that she brought him there — the first time and the second time,” according to Youd.

Mello confirmed that Rodriguez implicated the Milford woman, who is believed to be living in Florida now: Rodriguez told investigators that the woman was there when he committed the crime, but that wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges against her.

“She has been a very uncooperative participant,” Mello said. “She lied to investigators on numerous occasions. I believe that she was involved to a much greater degree.”

Mello said the case was solved as a direct result of Youd’s tireless efforts and refusal to give up.

Why such commitment? Why wouldn’t Youd give up?

“[Kelsey Monahon] was by all accounts a really nice woman,” Youd said. “She was completely innocent.”

Mello said Luis Rodriguez was “an animal, a barbarian,” but Mello said that if it wasn’t for the Milford woman who police believe drove him to the Monahons’ home, the crime wouldn’t have happened.

“If we gain any further information that she was there, we will charge her,” Mello said. “The case is closed in terms of Luis Rodriguez, but we are still searching for information of [the woman’s] involvement, and if we ever find it, we will absolutely pursue charges against her.”