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Police: Husband destroyed evidence in missing wife’s case

  • Joanne 'Jo' Ringer, pictured here, went missing on March 2. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Chad Reidy of Clarksburg speaks about his wife Joanne 'Jo' Ringer, who went missing on March 2, in their home in October 2016. Reidy took his own life on April 7, police said. GILLIAN JONES/” THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE

  • People hold candles during a vigil for Jo Ringer, last month at Millside Park in Easthampton. gAZETTE FILE PHOTO



bdunn@berkshireeagle.com
Tuesday, July 04, 2017

CLARKSBURG — Within hours of Joanne “Jo” Ringer’s disappearance, police believe Charles “Chad” Reidy began destroying evidence to cover up the murder of his wife.

Hundreds of text messages were deleted from his phone and Facebook account from the weeks preceding her March 2 disappearance. He gave inconsistent statements to investigators. And he agreed to a preliminary polygraph screening, an interview during which he made statements that raised further suspicions.

Documents obtained by The Eagle also show that police believe Reidy used a second cellphone, which could contain “invaluable” information in the investigation into the disappearance and likely homicide of Joanne “Jo” Ringer. It not clear whether the phone yet has been recovered.

Ringer never arrived for her first shift at an Easthampton taxi company on the evening of March 2. She has neither been seen nor heard from since.

Reidy, who took his own life on April 7, reported Ringer missing on March 4. He told police he postponed making the report because he thought he had to wait 24 hours before calling police about a missing adult.

He told investigators he last saw Ringer about 10 a.m. at their Clarksburg home before he went to visit friends and she was expected to visit another friend to pick up a GPS device and report for her shift at 6 p.m.

His ex-girlfriend, Laura Reilly, who has been indicted and arraigned on three counts of misleading police in the investigation, told police she met Reidy in Northampton on the afternoon of March 2 and followed him back to Clarksburg.

“This statement is implausible,” police said. “Cell tower records for Reidy’s phone indicate that he was never in the Northampton area at all on that date.”

During the time period Reilly said she was with Reidy, his phone showed it was actively being used in the North Adams area.

Police also believe Reidy used a phone other than the one he normally used to contact Reilly via text, asking for a ride back to the Greenfield area.

When she asked via text whose phone he was using and where he was calling from, Reidy called her back.

Police said immediately switching from text to voice communication was an apparent attempt to avoid leaving an “alphanumeric evidence trail” of his whereabouts.

In an April 13 interview, six days after Reidy’s suicide, Reilly told police she picked up Reidy in Northampton and drove him to Clarksburg in her car, not in two separate cars as she had first told them.

She told police Reidy had asked her to lie to them and say she had not given him a ride to Clarksburg.

Investigators believe that during the window between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., Reidy may have been destroying evidence, relocating Ringer’s vehicle and/or disposing of her body.

Ringer’s abandoned car was found in Easthampton on March 6, within a mile of Reilly’s home, with Ringer’s ID, insurance card, taxi license and other personal items still inside.

“This phone was used by Reidy in the hours following Ringer’s disappearance and probable cause exists that it was utilized in the cover-up of her murder,” police said in court files. “If investigators are able to locate this phone, it will likely contain data... which could prove invaluable to this investigation.”

More phone records show that Reidy left Clarksburg the morning of March 3, eventually reaching the Easthampton area approximately 1:10 p.m. via Windsor, Blandford, Westhampton and Northampton.

Between the evening of March 2 and 5:30 p.m. March 3, Reidy sent at least three messages to Ringer’s Facebook account, beginning with one hoping she had a good first night at work and ending with one reading, “Baby, we are all very worried about you. Please contact someone and let them know you’re OK.”

Forensic analysis of Reidy’s phone showed the deletion of 274 text messages from the period between Feb. 2 and March 3, 2017.

Ninety-six Facebook messages from the five days prior to March 3 also were apparently deleted. The search history on the phone’s web browser from Feb. 20 to March 4 was likewise scrubbed, according to court records.

On March 16, two weeks after Ringer’s disappearance, Reidy agreed to a preliminary polygraph screening at the North Adams State Police Detective Unit office in North Adams.

The purpose of the interview was to determine if Reidy had any medical or psychological issues that would preclude him from being a good candidate to take a polygraph test.

The screening showed he was fit to take the test if he were to volunteer to do so, but suspicions were raised by some of his questions during the brief interview.

Reidy said he had not been provided much investigatory information up to that point and specifically asked about Ringer’s car, including whether it was found with its engine running and said it should be returned to him and back home in his garage.

A police review of that interview surmised that Reidy was trying to “mine investigative data” from authorities.

Police said that Reidy’s questions about the car, asked outside of the context of Ringer’s whereabouts, “raise suspicions in regards to his motive during the information exchange.”

It was during that interview that authorities, who had obtained a warrant to do so, placed the first of two GPS trackers on Reidy’s car in order to monitor its movements. The battery in that tracker failed after two days. A second tracker was attached on March 24.

Investigators said informing Reidy he may be asked to volunteer to take a polygraph test likely led him to believe he was the target of the investigation and he “may feel pressure to conceal his crime.”

The investigation is being conducted by Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney’s office, the Massachusetts State Police crime scene services section, and the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the Clarksburg, North Adams, Northampton and Easthampton police departments.

Reach staff writer Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249 or @BobDunn413 on Twitter.