Monday, February 21, 2011

Ronda Reynolds: A Mother's Journey For Justice 12 Years Later

"The crime scene was staged, rearranged to look like a suicide," according to forensic pathologist Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds.

Ronda Reynolds (pictured left) fulfilled her childhood dream by becoming a Washington State trooper and firearms instructor. She left the patrol a few months after she married to work in private security.

In early 1998, Ronda married Ron Reynolds, an elementary school principal in the small Lewis County town of Toledo, Washington. During their brief marriage, Ronda discovered her husband was having an affair. She confronted him. She told him the marriage was over and that she expected the $15,000 she put into the new marital home to be returned. That night, Ronda booked a flight to her mom's home in Spokane. She made arrangements just after midnight with a friend and veteran police officer to drive her early that morning to the airport. Crime Scene photos show she'd packed her bags and left a message to her husband on the bathroom mirror: "I love you, call me."

Within hours of leaving, Ronda was found dead on the floor of her master bedroom,in the closet,with the door open, just 15 feet away, where her husband claims to have been sound asleep. When Ron Reynolds was questioned, he told police Ronda was distraught and talked about killing herself.

The gruesome crime scene photo's tell a different story. (if you
go to the link, please be advised the photo's are on this site are graphic).

Jerry Berry was Lewis County's lead detective on the case and said "this appeared to have the earmarks of a staged homicide."But Berry faced serious evidence problems because he wasn't called to the scene until two hours after Ronda's body was found, and the crime scene had already been disturbed.

But, seven months after Ronda's death, Ron Reynolds' attorney wrote the department insisting they remove the cloud of suspicion and close the case. And "if you do not then we will." Berry says the sheriff's office caved, closing the case as a suicide over his objections. "They just basically wanted me to let it go,
leave it as a suicide, and move on and take on other cases and be done with it," Berry said.

Nearly 10 years after Ronda was found shot to death, a television station in Seattle took an interest in the case, launching their own investigation. The
ABC affiliate uncovered evidence and found experts who are convinced Ronda's murder was made to look like a suicide.

Her mother, Barb Thompson has fought to have her daughter's case re-opened. With more twists and turns than a tornado, a Washington court finally granted her motion for a judicial review. All she is asking is for the death certificate be changed to state the truth--homicide.

On January 8, 2010: After a jury's unanimous decision that Lewis County coroner, Terry Wilson, was wrong in his ruling of suicide in the Ronda Reynolds case, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks ruled that Wilson must change that ruling. The death certificate was changed from "suicide" to "undetermined death."

A coroner's inquest is scheduled for sometime late this summer.

Susan Murphy Milano is with the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education. She is an expert on intimate partner violence and homicide crimes. For more information visit She is the author of "Time's Up A Guide on How to Leave and SurviveAbusive and Stalking Relationships," available for purchase at the Institute, and wherever books are sold. Susan is the host of The Susan Murphy Milano Show, "Time's Up!" on Here Women Talk is a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated The Roth Show with Dr Laurie Roth

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