Over eight years ago, Moreira “Mo” Monsalve disappeared in Hawaii, leaving behind no clues or evidence of her whereabouts. Her disappearance sparked a lengthy investigation and legal battle that ultimately resulted in the conviction of her ex-boyfriend, Bernard Brown, for her murder. Despite the passage of time, the case remains a haunting reminder of the tragedies that can befall people in their everyday lives.
At the time of her disappearance, Mo was 46 years old. She was last seen at Brown’s residence in Wailuku on January 12, 2014, which caused her family to become concerned and her daughter, Alexis Felicilda, reported her missing just two days later. What made the situation even more alarming was the fact that some of Mo’s personal belongings were found in a dumpster at a nearby community center shortly after she went missing.
Despite being a person of interest for the Maui Police in the case of Mo’s disappearance, Brown was not immediately labeled as a suspect. Despite extensive investigations, Mo’s body has yet to be found.
In September 2019, five years after the disappearance, Brown was finally indicted for Mo’s murder. Alexis shared a range of emotions with local NBC affiliate KHNL. She expressed relief that her mother’s case was moving forward, but also expressed sadness over the implicit acknowledgement of her mother’s death. Additionally, she felt anger towards Brown.
During the trial held in Maui, Brown pleaded not guilty while maintaining his innocence. Those who testified included both family and friends of Mo. Alexis, one of Mo’s family members, recounted the anxious moments when Mo first went missing, and how she made frantic calls to Brown in hopes of finding any leads on her mother’s whereabouts.
During the murder trial of a Maui mother of three, Mo, a friend of hers named Matthew Wilkins, took the stand and shared that he had warned Mo about the dangers of her relationship with Brown. Despite his concerns, Mo had reassured him that she was capable of handling the situation.
During the Maui murder trial, Prosecutor J.W. Hupp accepted the challenges of the case, especially in the absence of a traditional crime scene. While Brown’s defense team, headed by Randall Hironaka, argued that there was no concrete evidence linking Brown to Mo’s alleged murder. Hironaka even labeled the trial as a “witch hunt.”
After much consideration, the jury delivered their verdict of guilty. Bernard Brown was sentenced to life in prison in January 2023, though he may be eligible for parole. While acknowledging the jury’s decision and showing respect, Hironaka expressed his disappointment with KHNL.
After almost a decade of torment, the trial’s conclusion brings a bittersweet ending to an extremely tragic case. Mo’s family and friends can finally have a semblance of closure, as they have been plagued by her mysterious disappearance for far too long.