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LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) — Even after 41 years, Joseph Aguiar refuses to give up the search for his twin brother’s killer.
Christopher Aguiar’s body was found by two men visiting a Lincoln junkyard back in October 1982. The 33-year-old U.S. Navy veteran and young father had been shot twice in the head.
Joseph tells 12 News he and his twin brother were inseparable.
“We played together. We were in Little League together,” Joseph recalled. “We had done just about everything together.”
Joseph and Christopher even went into the U.S. Military at the same time — though he joined the Marine Corps and his brother chose the Navy.
It wasn’t until the twins returned home that both began struggling with alcoholism. Joseph said his brother’s addiction took a turn for the worse when his marriage started falling apart.
“[His ex-wife] moved back to California and took [their daughter] with her,” Joseph explained. “He was drinking heavily.”
Christopher’s daughter, Jennifer Aguiar Thurman, was 8 years old when her father was killed, but she didn’t learn how he died until she was 16.
“I was shocked,” she said. “Knowing what I know about my dad and what I heard about my dad, that doesn’t make sense to me. It didn’t seem like he was the kind of person that would be taken that way.”
Jennifer said it was her uncle Joseph who told her the truth.
Joseph remembers the night he found out his brother had been killed. He had just returned home from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting when he realized his brother hadn’t called him like he said he would.
When his phone rang later that night, it wasn’t Christopher. It was the Lincoln Police Department.
“[The officer] said, ‘We want you to come down here,’” Joseph recalled. “When I asked what for, he said, ‘Well, it’s about your brother … we want to talk to you.’”
“I remember going there … I walked in and [the detective] said, ‘Why don’t you sit down and have a coffee?’ and I said, ‘No, I don’t want a coffee. What is going on?’” he continued. “There were seven detectives, and one of them said, ‘We believe your brother was shot and killed.’”
Joseph said he didn’t believe them at first, but it started to sink in once the detectives showed him his brother’s belongings.
The Vietnam War veteran tells 12 News that, while he’s seen the horrors of war firsthand, nothing prepared him for the moment he had to identify his brother’s body.
“When I saw my brother … I ran out of there,” he said. “I was saying, ‘This can’t be happening’ and I was punching the wall.”
Detectives believe Christopher was out at the former Lafayette Club in Pawtucket the night before his body was discovered. He was last seen alive leaving the club with a man, who later returned to the club without him, according to investigators.
Witnesses claimed that man went home, changed his clothes, then went with his wife to the Garfield Club in Central Falls. Detectives said the distinct green car he was known to drive was never seen again after that night.
Joseph remembers investigators telling him about a person of interest who was brought in for questioning but never charged.
“This guy we believe is the killer,” he said. “Can we prove it? No.”
The motive for Christopher’s murder is murky. But Joseph thinks his brother, who worked for a jewelry factory at the time, may have made a bad deal over gold chains.
Joseph said he used to regularly visit the Lincoln Police Department for updates, but detectives claimed their hands were tied.
“[The investigation] started to fade,” Joseph added. “[Detectives] said, ‘We think we know who did it, but we can’t charge him because we don’t have a gun and we don’t have the car.’”
The investigation into Christopher’s death remains active, though it’s unclear whether there have been any breaks in the case.
Jennifer and Joseph hope that one day, justice will be served.
“Somebody has to know something,” Jennifer said. “It’s been a really long time, so it would be nice to have some kind of closure.”
Anyone with information regarding Christopher’s death is urged to contact Lincoln Police Detective Nick Nunes at (401) 333-8487 or email@example.com.
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