SCHOOL DISTRICT PLACES PRINCIPAL
After inquest finds him responsible
for his wife’s death
October 22, 2011
(TOLEDO, WA) -- The husband of a long dead Washington State Patrol Trooper, Ronda Reynolds, has been placed on leave from his job as a school principal in Toledo, Washington.
Ronda Reynolds. INquest jury ruked herb death in 1998 was not a suicide. CLICK TO ENLARGE
The move comes just two days after a coroner's inquest jury ruled he was responsible for his wife's death in 1998 and that Reynold’s death was not a suicide as had previously been determined.
Toledo School District Superintendent Sharon Bower says the school board decided Thursday night to place Ron Reynolds on administrative leave from his job as principal of Toledo Elementary School.
In a statement Bower said, “Throughout this entire process, the main focus is to ensure Toledo Elementary School is a positive learning environment for children."
Reynolds wife died from a gunshot wound at their home in 1998. At that time he was principal of the Toledo school.
In Chehalis, Washington an inquest jury looking into the death of Reynolds ruled this week her death was not a suicide, as had been proclaimed by the original coroner in the case, but that Reynolds' manner of death was homicide.
She was murdered as her mother Barb Thompson had argued for years.
The jurors named Reynolds' then husband Ron Reynolds and a stepson Jonathan Reynolds as the parties responsible for her death.
Ron Reynolds and Jonathan Reynolds both refused to testify during the inquest, as did Ron Reynolds' two other sons.
But what remains a question mark is if anyone will be arrested and tried in the murder.
The recently elected Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod was expected to issue an arrest warrant in the case.
But McLeod said Friday he has temporarily suspended the issuing of any warrants in the case adding that the inquest into Ronda Reynolds' death will be reconvened Oct. 28.
In a statement McLeaod said the temporary suspension would be for investigation and resolution of a legal issue that has come to light in the case but did not offer details on the issue.
He said a complete disclosure would be made when the coroner’s inquest is reconvened.
The Lewis County prosecuting attorney Jonathan Meyer has stated he was not aware of any other inquest in the state that resulted in an arrest warrant being issued.
The Lewis County sheriff says even if the two men are arrested, unless there is new evidence in the case he will not reopen that case.
Despite conflicting evidence in the case, the original county coroner in 1998 quickly ruled the death a suicide.
The county’s new coroner Warren McCleod was elected partly because he pledged to get to the bottom of the trooper’s death.
The northwest learned of the strange death of Reynolds following a strong series of investigative reports by KOMO-TV reporter Tracey Vedder in 2008.
In January of last year a judge gave the previous Lewis County coroner 10 days to remove the word "suicide" from the death certificate of Reynolds.
That order followed several KOMO-TV news investigative reports that were broadcast titled “Suicide or Murder? The mysterious death of Ronda Reynolds.”
WHEN REYNOLDS WAS FOUND DEAD SOME THINGS DID NOT ADD UP
In 1998, trooper Ronda E. Reynolds was found dead in her home of a single gunshot to the head. Lewis County Coroner Terry Wilson ruled her death as a suicide at the time.
But in 2008, a KOMO-TV news investigation into the woman’s death raised serious questions about the corner’s competence in the case as opinions from experts indicated the case was an obvious, or probable homicide.
And in November 2009, after reviewing evidence a jury unanimously decided that coroner Wilson was wrong when he called the death a suicide.
The jurors based their decision on a number of inconsistencies in the case, including the position of the gun and the trajectory of the bullet, which did not match a finding of suicide.
But Wilson refused to change Reynolds' death certificate.
The judge issued a ruling Jan. 9, 2010 that required the coroner to remove "suicide" as the cause of death and reconsider all of the information and evidence available and issue a new cause of death.
Under the judge’s ruling, the cause of death could not be suicide unless the coroner uncovered “new evidence” that outweighs the evidence considered by the jury.
The jurors who reviewed the case had no doubt that the cause of the woman’s death was homicide.
Various video reports on the death of Ronda Reynolds can be found HERE
CIRCUMSTANCES OF RONDA REYNOLDS DEATH
Ronda Reynolds, 33, was discovered dead of a gunshot wound to her head, in Toledo, Washington, on December 16, 1998. She died on the floor of her master bedroom walk-in closet.
Ronda’s mother Barb claims in a posting on realcrimes.com her daughter’s death followed a heated argument with her husband and that the death scene was “contaminated” by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department before the lead detective, Jerry Berry, ever got there.
Barb Thompson said several months later, as Detective Berry was in the process of “pursuing answers to a long list of inconsistencies,” Ronda’s husband hired an attorney, who threatened to sue the sheriff’s office for not following proper procedures.
She says Sheriff John McCroskey responded by closing the case as a suicide one week later, using as justification a “falsified report by his detective, Sgt. Glade Austin,” and further that detective Berry, an “honest and courageous investigator refused to dismiss the case as suicide and that on Jan.1, 2001 Berry was “transferred” to deputy, put back on road duty and instructed to leave the case alone.
In June, 2001, following what she says were months of harassment and trumped-up reprimands because he refused to go along with the cover-up, Berry quit the department.