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Story By Robert Muldoon
Brianna Beam came to Waterbury at age 18, in 2020, newly independent, to begin life afresh. It was a fateful decision. A year later, her skeletal remains were found in Campville, near the Naugatuck River in Harwinton. In February, her body was identified by dental records. The FBI has recently joined the investigation.
“Brianna was a free spirit,” said her Nana, Carole Beam. “She was living in the 70s in the 2000s. She wanted to make a difference, and loved life.”
With her new freedom, of all the wide world, she chose Waterbury. Aside from cheap rent, it appears to have been a dart throw at a map. But within a year, her spirit and precious life were crushed—discarded at the bottom of an embankment off Valley Road in Harwinton, just off Route 8. She was the sixth Waterbury woman to be found near that spot since 1988.
Born Into Difficult Circumstances
Brianna was born on October 18, 2001 to a 15-year-old mother in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Ill-prepared for the responsibility, her mother Jenny soon had two other children, Noah and Cheyenne. And so at a young age, Brianna was forced to become a “caregiver,” Carole said. Her own needs came second. Sometimes all she had for dinner was cheese curls.
“She was reprimanded if she didn’t change the diapers or feed them,” Carol said. “And sometimes Windex was used to clean her feet if they’re dirty. It was horrendous.”
Eventually, Jenny moved to Uncasville, Connecticut, where her new husband grew up. But the family still struggled. At 5, Brianna was put on a plane to Las Vegas, where Carole worked as a nurse. Enrolled in school, Brianna was “doing great,” Carole said.
The two, Nana and Brianna, often danced to their favorite song “Apple Bottom Jeans.” For the first time, Brianna was free to be a child. She was in a safe harbor. The future seemed limitless.
“Brianna was a real girly girl,” Carole said. “She loved putting make-up on and wearing dresses. All she really ever wanted was attention and love.”
Back in the Eye of the Storm
Carole brought Brianna on Thanksgiving vacation to Florida. But things went unexpectedly awry. Jenny and several others “stormed in the garage and yanked Brianna away,” Carole said. Police were called, but to no avail. Brianna was back with her mother--back in the eye of the storm.
Jenny brought 6-year-old Brianna to Rhode Island, where she had moved, but soon Brianna ended up in the custody of the Department of Children, Youth and Families. Eventually, Brianna was adopted by a family in Rhode Island, and went into the foster care system.
For the next 12 years, Carole did not hear from Brianna.
Brianna had diabetes. At age 16, in 2018, she was hospitalized at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence. On the day before Valentine’s Day she had a special visitor, Rob Gronkowski, the goofy but good-hearted tight end of the New England Patriots.
It was the best Valentine’s “date” ever. Living up to her name, Brianna “beamed” from ear to ear. Maybe she told Gronk that her favorite team was not the Patriots, but the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Yup, it’s true. Brianna was a hockey fan.
Maybe, she thought, after meeting such a big and strong and kind-hearted protector like Gronk, she might one day have the good fortune to meet a guy like that herself?
Brianna had had a hard life. Her mother, by now, had six children, and had been in and out of prison, according to Carole. Brianna’s life had had so much upheaval and turmoil. So she wanted to change it, to break the cycle.
“Brianna was very adamant that she did not want to be anything like her mother. She was very adamant about not doing drugs, not having kids because (her mother) had so many and wasn’t taking care of them,” Carole said.
A New Beginning in Waterbury
In 2020, when she turned 18, Brianna struck out on her own. From a young age, when she was made into a caregiver to her younger siblings, she had been forced to be an adult. And now she finally was. At last, after so much turbulence, it was her time.
“She wanted to experience everything and anything,” said Carole, who reconnected with Brianna at this time.
According to Carole, Rhode Island had a program to help pay rent for those leaving the foster care system, and so for no discernible reason other than affordable rent, Brianna chose to move to Waterbury.
Carole, who lived in Texas, kept in touch with Brianna through FaceTime calls and postings on Facebook. The Facebook posts chart the milestones in her young life. Out of the nest, on her own for the first time, Brianna was spreading her wings, taking flight. She found an apartment. It was a heady time.
On March 15, a Facebook post signaled another new beginning: “In a Relationship.” Things really were looking up. Carole “loved” the post. But then an ominous sign. Two weeks later, a post pictured her exhaling a plume of smoke.
“What is that you’re smoking?” Carole chastised in the Comments.
“Vape,” Brianna assured her.
“Got Engaged to Brii Beam”
On August 26, there was a post announcing that Brianna had gotten engaged. Everyone was excited.
“I’m so surprised and happy for you both!!!” Carole responded. Carole wanted to help plan the wedding for her beautiful girl. On December 20, Brianna posted a profile photo with her boyfriend. His name was Richie Cosgrove.
The couple had moved to Thomaston to live with his parents, Carole learned. Later the young couple moved into an apartment in Bristol. But on January 29, 2021, there was another concerning post: Brianna posted a profile photo of a person, with an obscured face, surrounded by bottles of liquor, including Jim Beam Bourbon on the floor, and Jim Beam in hand. It seemed out of character for a girl who’d never been in any trouble.
“All Goes Downhill from There”
Sometime in 2020, Carole learned that Brianna had gotten addicted to heroin. Brianna called her sometimes while throwing up. She called at least three times asking for help getting into rehab. Carole sent some money, but calls asking for more money kept coming. Carole began doubting that the money went for rehab, and so she insisted that any future money go directly to a rehab place. She was demanding accountability.
A diabetic, Brianna needed insulin. She reached out to other family for money. Suspicions grew. Money was offered, but to be sent directly to the pharmacy, not to Brianna. In dismay, Brianna eventually cut off communications with family, Carole said.
(Editor’s Note – the following information is from a Bristol Police Report and is graphic.)
On April 7, 2021 neighbors in a Bristol apartment heard a girl screaming for help and called police. Police responded at 22:37 (10:37 p.m.). The victim’s name is redacted in the police report. The accused was identified as “Richard Cosgrove (DOB 05/02/1996).” The report does not directly name Brianna Beam as the victim, but family sources have confirmed that she was living in the apartment at that time with Richard Cosgrove.
From the Bristol Police Incident Report:
“Victim was visibly distraught, crying and shaking, and her clothes appeared to be torn. I noticed several scratches on Victim’s face as well as marks on her neck.”
“Richard pushed her on the bed and…he pushed Victim against the wall. Victim said Richard restrained her against the wall using his forearm…he continued to push against her neck until she felt like she couldn’t breathe…Victim then ran into the bathroom which is the only room in the apartment that has a lock. Victim informed me that Richard had previously taken her cell phone when she attempted to call 911 so she began to scream loudly…Richard followed Victim into the bathroom and grabbed his razor…Richard then broke the razor, exposing the blades. Victim stated “You won’t do it!”…Victim stated Richard then came towards her with the blade and cut her face several times with it. Richard then left the apartment…”
The report was filed under “Domestic Serious” Incident Type. Hours later, Thomaston Police apprehended Richard, who was placed under arrest for violations including: Assault in the Second Degree, Unlawful Restraint Second Degree, Strangulation in the Third Degree, and Interfering with an Emergency Call. Richard was held at the Bristol Police Department on a $75,000 surety bond.
Her Last Call
May 2, 2021 was the last time Carole heard from Brianna. The communication was via Snapchat. According to Carole, Brianna told her that she and Richie “had been kicked out of the apartment in Bristol and she needed $100 for a hotel room.” Nothing was mentioned about domestic violence. By now, Carole had become suspicious of these requests for money.
“Nana you’re being so stubborn. If you can’t help me, I want nothing to do with you,” Carole recalled Brianna saying.
Around Thanksgiving, Carole became alarmed. She hadn’t heard from Brianna in months. In her mind, she had excused Brianna’s silence for her anger and free spirited ways. But at the holiday, she became concerned. She called Thomaston Police for a wellness check. Bristol Police also became involved. But Brianna could not be located.
Carole and family contacted “The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children” to file a report. They further contacted organizations involved in “Human Trafficking” and “Sex Trafficking” agencies.
“We wanted to put out an APB (All Points Bulletin) on any format, in any way, shape or form so that we could locate her,” Carole said.
Posters were placed all around Facebook asking for any information on Brianna. Brianna had never been arrested, so law enforcement had no records of her. There was no DNA, but there were dental records.
Skeletal Remains in Campville
On December 19, 2021, skeletal remains were found in the Campville section of Harwinton, near the Naugatuck River. Previously, the bodies of four Waterbury women had been found in the same spot: Karen Everett, 25, in 1988; Mildred Alvarado, 30, in 1989; Evelyn Bettancourt, 27, in 1993; Jessica Marie Muskus, 22, missing since 2004, but found in 2006. A fifth woman, Frederica Spinola, 40, of Waterbury, had died mysteriously after exiting a vehicle at 50 mph on Route 8 near Campville in Harwinton. All of the women reportedly had drug arrests.
On February 17, 2021, Connecticut State Police identified the body of Brianna Beam, 20, from dental records. Brianna had just turned 20, on October 18, 2021, two months to the day before her remains were found. As of March 31, 2022 investigators have not yet labeled Brianna’s death a murder, there are no named suspects in her death and there have been no arrests. The FBI has recently joined the Connecticut State Police in the investigation, Carole Beam said.
“She had a hard life, but in between the hard times, there were glimpses of good times,” her Nana said. “I keep hanging on to that.”
Investigators are still looking into Beam’s death and are asking anyone with information to contact Det. Mengacci at 860-402-7608 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Mengacci is the lead investigator in the case.
The Waterbury Observer would like to acknowledge the immense help of David P. Bunnell Jr., of Torrington, in reporting and investigating this story.
If you have any information about the lives and unsolved murder of any of these women, please contact the Waterbury Observer at 203-754-4238 or email John Murray at email@example.com.
The Waterbury Observer is investigating the deaths of...
1) KAREN EVERETT ("Brandy") -
10/16/88 (Valley Rd Harwinton) -
STRANGLED (age 24)
2) MILDRED ALVARADO -
1/19/89 (Valley Rd/Harwinton) -
STRANGLED (age 30)
3) MARIE THRASHER
Body found in Naugatuck River near Bank Street
4) MARY JO MARKIEWICZ -
11/25/92 -(Chase River Rd Wby) -
STABBED age 34
5) OLGA MARIE CORNIELES-UBIERA
11/01/94 -(Rte 262- Waterbury Rd in Thomaston - 8 miles south of Campville)
6) FREDERICA SPINOLA -
12/9/94 (Rte 8 Harwinton) –
RUN OVER (pushed/fell from van) (age 40)
Albert S. Boyson, age 77, van driver for Kelley Transit was driving
7) LORI DELGADO
41-year-old Waterbury resident
Notch Road embankment
Bludgeoned, blunt head trauma
Believed to be killed elsewhere and dumped
8) BERNADINE PAUL (Missing)
6/7/00 - Bradlees Parking lot (Chase Ave)
9) ELIZABETH GRZYWACZ
10/7/2002 - 69 Linden St – naked, bludgeoned (age 34)
10) JESSICA MARIE MUSKUS - age 22
found 11/14/2006 (Campville Exit Rte 8/ 300 yds from Valley Rd)
The next three women are Waterbury victims of convicted serial killer William Devin Howell, who murdered at least seven women, three from Waterbury. Were there others?
11) MELANIE RUTH CAMALINI (29) - missing 1/1/2003
12) MARILYN GONZALEZ (26) - mother of 2 (2003)
13) MARY JANE MENARD (40) – 10/2003
14) DEE-MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ –
Age 36 - Train Tracks - Thomaston AVE –
Medical Examiner ruled a drug overdose
15) KELSEY MAZZAMARO, 26, of Litchfield
Found murdered on May 6, 2018 in Burlington
16) BRIANNA BEAM age 20
Harwinton - 100 feet off Campville Rd
Ties to Waterbury, Thomaston, Bristol and RI
If you have any photographs or memories or information about the life and unsolved murders of any of these women, please contact the Waterbury Observer at 203-754-4238 or email John Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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