Daniel Tavares Jr. has been indicted by a grand jury in the death of Gayle Botelho, a mother of three young children who disappeared on Oct. 27, 1988, Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter announced Monday.
Botelho, of Fall River, left her apartment, telling her roommate she would be back in a few minutes, but never returned. Police found her remains 12 years later, buried in the backyard of a house where Tavares lived at the time she disappeared. Tavares told prosecutors in former Bristol District Attorney Paul Walsh's office where the body could be found and implicated two other men in the death.
Sutter said investigators aggressively sought Botelho's killer, traveling to several states and Portugal to track down leads, but were unable to put together enough evidence to seek an indictment.
About eight months ago, investigators got a big break in the case when a woman who had provided Tavares with an alibi changed her story. Authorities said they believe her conscience played a role in her decision to come forward after all these years.
"That was a catalyst for a series of developments," said Sutter, who said he could not elaborate until Tavares is returned to Massachusetts from Washington, where he's serving a life sentence in the 2007 killings of Brian and Beverly Mauck, of Graham.
Tavares, now 46, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 1991 death of his mother and was in prison until 2007.
A judge in Massachusetts released him on personal recognizance while he was awaiting trial for assaults on prison guards, despite protests from prosecutors, who asked for $100,000 cash bail.
Tavares fled to Washington, where he shot and killed the Maucks, his neighbors, in what authorities said was a dispute over a $50 debt. Tavares pleaded guilty in the couple's deaths.
The lawyer who represented Tavares in that case, Judith Mandel, could not be reached for comment Monday on the new indictment against him.
Sutter said his office is working with authorities in Washington to return Tavares to Massachusetts to face arraignment in Botelho's killing. No date has been set for his arraignment, and Sutter said the process could take two months.
"I'm very pleased that we have developed the evidence sufficient to request an indictment and that that indictment has been received," Sutter said. "The important satisfaction takes place when the jury says guilty or the defendant pleads guilty."