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Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Malden Police Chief Kevin Molis announced that Rodney Daniels was charged with the July 20, 1991 murder of 17-year-old Patricia Moreno in Malden, Massachusetts. (Middlesex district

A cold-case unit in Massachusetts cracked the unsolved murder of a teenage girl with old-fashioned investigative work – not with advances in DNA technology – and arrested a suspect in Georgia after more than three decades, authorities said Wednesday.

Rodney Daniels, 48, was arrested Monday in Georgia without incident related to the 1991 fatal shooting of Patricia Moreno in a Malden, Massachusetts apartment where she was living with her foster family, law enforcement officials said.

“This is a case that was not solved by any new development in forensic science, but rather the result of tireless investigative work and changed circumstances for some of the parties involved,” said Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.

On July 20, 1991, shortly after 3 a.m., police responded to the third-floor apartment in Malden, where officers found Moreno lying on the fire escape with a single gunshot wound to his head.

Moreno was still breathing when she was admitted to the hospital, where doctors discovered that she had suffered an irreversible brain injury. Moreno died later that day.

Daniels, who was in a relationship with one of Moreno’s foster mother’s teenage daughters, was present at the apartment at the time of the shooting, Ryan said.

Daniels had told the police at the time that he was sleeping in an armchair in the living room when the sound of two gunshots woke him. Then he found Moreno’s body on the fire escape and alerted the foster mother, who called 911.

During the investigation, the police did not find any evidence of a forced entry into the apartment, nor did they seize a weapon or cartridge cases at the crime scene.

Investigators learned that Daniels owned multiple handguns at the same time as the murder and threatened Moreno in the weeks leading up to her death, but no arrests were made.

In 2020, the prosecutor’s cold case unit reviewed the murder and, through reconstruction of the crime scene, determined that the position of the bullet wound and the downward trajectory of the bullet matched the gunner’s firing from the apartment door.

Investigators also found a witness who was living on the second floor at the time of the shooting and who had recently returned from abroad. The witness said he heard the sound of the gunshot and immediately looked at the fire escape where he saw a person walk back into the apartment and close the door.

The witness’s description of the person on the fire escape matched the appearance of Daniels, investigators said.

Daniels is charged with murder and is due to arrive in Massachusetts on Thursday for his indictment.

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