NORTH ADAMS - Chad Reidy, the deceased husband of an Easthampton woman who went missing seven weeks ago, is considered the sole suspect in what Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless said investigators have from the beginning considered a homicide case.
Meanwhile, Capeless said, investigators are looking for the public’s help in locating Jo Ringer, a 39-year-old woman who has been missing since March 2, the day she failed to show up for her first day of work as a taxi driver in Easthampton.
“Based upon the circumstance of not only the disappearance but other information we have received, we have decided that (Reidy) is the focus of this,” Capeless said at a Friday press conference. “Returning Jo Ringer to her family is the most important thing we can do.”
Capeless declined to comment on allegations published in a Friday Gazette story, which quoted several close friends and Ringer’s daughter as saying that Ringer complained of violent abuse at the hands of Reidy before she went missing. Ringer told those people her husband had punched her, choked her, pointed a gun to her head and threatened to make her “disappear.”
One friend, Erik Brown of Easthampton, said that Ringer told him, “If anything happens to me, Chad did it.”
On April 7, Reidy was found dead inside his garage of apparent suicide.
Capeless declined to answer questions about that and other information received by investigators, and rebuffed complaints by some of those close to Ringer that authorities were withholding information that could help locate Ringer.
“We are trying to maintain information in order to preserve the integrity of and to aid the investigation, not to keep it from the public,” Capeless said.
Upon learning that investigators have focused on a possible homicide from the start, Ringer’s daughter, Savanah, said: “It’s heartbreaking, but at the same time I’d rather have closure than nothing at all. I’d rather know what happened than not know at all.”
On Friday, Capeless said, “We have kept hope that Joanne Ringer would be found alive. But seven weeks have passed since her disappearance and she has made no contact with family or friends, particularly her 19-year-old daughter Savanah. And animals that she loved were left without care at home.”
Authorities, aided at times by the Berkshire Mountain Search and Rescue Team, have searched for Ringer on the property and surrounding woods at Reidy and Ringer’s house in Clarksburg, and in the woods between Easthampton and Northampton.
Capeless discouraged members of the public from conducting their own searches for Ringer, instead urging anyone who has information about her to contact authorities. Capeless named turkey hunters as being potentially helpful when turkey season begins next week.
The investigation is being led by the Massachusetts State Police working with the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office. Other agencies assisting in the case include the Northampton and Easthampton police departments.
Also on Friday, a woman with whom Reidy was previously romantically involved before marrying Ringer pleaded not guilty to three counts of misleading a police.
Easthampton resident Laura Reilly, 42, made “serial misstatements” to investigators to mislead them, all at Reidy’s behest, First Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Paul Caccaviello said during her arraignment. She was released on $1,500 bail. (See accompanying story)
Dusty Christensen can be reached at email@example.com.