The man charged with the murder of the mother of a 1-year-old girl missing from Ansonia has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court next month.
Jose Morales has been charged with the murder of Christine Holloway, the mother of his 1-year-old daughter Vanessa Morales, who has been missing since December.
Morales remained silent during the one minute hearing, except to greet the judge. Attorney Kevin Smith entered the not guilty plea for him to the charges of murder and tampering with evidence. Smith also requested a jury trial.
After court, Smith explained they’ll now concentrate on the discovery phase of the case.
"Discovery is the evidence they would want to use in the case,” he said. “We’ll be looking that over as well as pursuing our own leads.”
Smith pointed to the 26 page arrest warrant for Morales, which detailed Holloway’s murder according to police. Smith says there’s a lot of information that needs to be combed through.
“I can tell you, and you can probably understand from your own review of the warrant, there’s a lot of areas of investigation that we feel need to be followed up on and we look forward to following up on those,” said Smith.
Holloway’s family left the courthouse without commenting on today’s arraignment. Morales’ father, Marco Garcia, wouldn’t go on camera, but says the family is devastated by what happened to Christine. He tells NBC Connecticut that he keeps thinking about the last time he held 1-year-old Vanessa.
Following the plea hearing, the State’s Attorney’s Office released the following statement:
“Ethical rules preclude our office from commenting on a pending case, therefore we will not be commenting on the Jose Morales case. However, we would like to remind the public that the Ansonia police department is still investigating the disappearance of Vanessa Morales.”
Ansonia Police Lt. Patrick Lynch said Tuesday afternoon that they continue to search for the girl. They’re following up on leads, reminding the public that anyone with information on the disappearance or location of Vanessa should call Ansonia police or the FBI in New Haven.
There’s still a $10,000 reward for her return.
Morales is considered a suspect in the disappearance of Vanessa but has not been charged. He remains held on a $5 million dollar bond in Holloway’s murder.
The next court date for Morales is March 5. A trial date has not been set.
Police Find Christine Holloway Dead in Ansonia House
Officers responded to the 43-year-old Holloway's home on Myrtle Avenue on Dec. 2, 2019, after she failed to show up for work. Her family reported that she had not heard from her. When police arrived to the home, they said they found Holloway dead.
Mom's Death Ruled a Homicide
Father of Missing Ansonia Baby Arrested, Charged With Mom's Murder
Ansonia police charged him with murder and tampering with evidence on Feb. 7, 2020. He is being held on a $5 million bond.
Morales has been in police custody since Dec. 3, 2019, on an unrelated criminal possession of a firearm charge out of New Haven.
During a brief court appearance Tuesday, Morales was silent and his attorney entered a not guilty plea.
Outside court, attorney Kevin Smith said they will need to go through "voluminous discovery" that they need to review and there are a lot of areas of the investigation they feel need to be followed up on.
Morales is due back in court on March 5.
Holloway's family was in court and they did not speak with the media.
Amber Alert Issued for Missing Ansonia Baby
Vanessa was reported missing on Dec. 2, 2019, after she was not found in the home where her mother was found dead. Police initially issued a Silver Alert for her. They later issued an Amber Alert, which remains active.
Vanessa has brown hair and brown eyes. No information was available on what she might be wearing.
Statement from Office of the State's Attorney
The Office of the State's Attorney for the Judicial District of Ansonia-Milford released a statement Tuesday that says ethical rules prohibit them from commenting on the Morales case.
"However, we would like to remind the public that the Ansonia Police Department is still investigating the disappearance of Vanessa Morales."
Reward Offered for Information on Vanessa's Disapperance
The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads them to find Vanessa Morales. The reward will be given to anyone who returns Vanessa unharmed or has specific information about where she is that leads to her recovery.
Anyone with information on the disappearance of Vanessa Morales is asked to call FBI tip line at 203-503-5555 or the Ansonia Police Department at 203-735-1885 or through Tip411.