Reilly Pleads Guilty to Misleading Detectives In Ringer Murder Case
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An Easthampton woman pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to state police detectives in a murder investigation.
Laura Reilly, 44, pleaded guilty to two counts of misleading police and was sentenced by Judge John A. Agostini in Berkshire Superior Court to two to four years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Cedar Junction. The charges relate to the investigation into the alleged homicide of Joanne Ringer of Clarksburg in 2017.
"The judge agreed this was an egregious example of misleading police," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said in a statement on Friday. "We sought incarceration because Laura Reilly's lies not only stymied police in apprehending a murder suspect, they also had a devastating and lasting effect on Joanne Ringer's family and friends."
Ringer was reported missing in March 2017. Police identified Ringer's husband, Charles Reidy as a suspect, believing he had killed her. Police found Ringer's car abandoned in Easthampton a few days after she had been reported missing.
Reilly, an ex-girlfriend of Reidy, lied to police about being in contact with Reidy in the days surrounding Ringer's disappearance. Police later determined those statements were misleading and "wasted important time in the state police investigation," according to the district attorney's office.
In April, Reidy committed suicide. Ringer's body was not found until February 2018 in Hatfield. An autopsy could not confirm the cause of death because more than a year had passed since she went missing.
"If Laura Reilly told the truth about driving Reidy home on the day he reported Ringer missing and spending time with him the day after, police could have questioned Reidy about the killing prior to him committing suicide," Harrington said. "I offer my condolences to Ms. Ringer's loved ones, and we hope that this plea and sentence gives them some measure of comfort."
The district attorney's office recommended three to four years in prison. First Assistant District Attorney Karen Bell argued the case, calling Reidy's misleading statements "specific, intentional, purposeful, and calculated."
"The defendant's conduct and lies were specific, intentional, purposeful and calculated," Bell said in a statement. "At the time that the defendant spoke to the police, she was fully aware of the nature of the investigation. Intentionally misleading the police cuts at the core of our criminal justice system and threatens public safety."
Agostini concurred with the district attorney's office.
"The public was really the victim in this case," Agostini said, referencing the long search for Ringer and the extensive news coverage it produced. "It was not just police that were misled. It was all of us."
Driver Escapes Injury When SUV Collides With Tractor-Trailer
The driver of a red Hyundai Tucson headed west apparently failed to make the turn and struck the trailer of a Holland Co. Peterbilt heading down the Mohawk Trail. The collision occurred right at the center of the tight turn and knocked the sport utility vehicle backward into the snow bank on the south side. The incident was reported at 3:51 p.m.
The Hyundai suffered severe damage to its front end; there was debris in the road and the SUV's grille was off. The Peterbilt did not appear to have any significant damage.
Neither the driver of the SUV nor the Peterbilt was injured and the SUV's driver was cited.
Northern Berkshire EMS, the Clarksburg Fire Department and state police responded to the scene. Traffic was diverted around the SUV until it could be towed.
Missing Clarksburg Woman's Body Found in Hatfield
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The human remains discovered in Hatfield on Tuesday have been identified as those of Joanne Ringer, who went missing almost exactly a year ago.
Ringer, 39, was last seen at her home on Hall's Ground in Clarksburg on March 2, but never showed up at her new job driving a taxi in Easthampton. Her green 1999 Volkswagen Jetta was discovered on Exeter Street in Easthampton four days later.
Her husband, Charles "Chad" Reidy, was the sole suspect in her disappearance. He killed himself and was found dead in their garage on April 7.
Ringer's body was found in a remote wooded area of Hatfield on Tuesday evening and removed the next day.
Dr. Kathleen Crowley, a forensic odonatologist at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Boston, made a positive identification from Ringer's dental records. Crowley was assisted by Dr. James Pokines, a forensic anthropologist, also assigned to the Boston Office of the Medical Examiner. The identification was made late Thursday afternoon.
"From the beginning, we have suspected foul play and have approached this as a homicide investigation and we have considered Joanne's husband, Chad Reidy, as the sole suspect," Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless said a press conference in Northern Berkshire District Court on last year. "Reidy's apparent suicide on April 7 has not changed that view."
However, Laura J. Reilly, 42, of Berkeley Street, Easthampton, described as Reidy's former girlfriend, was arraigned last April on three counts of misleading investigators, an obstruction of justice, in providing erroneous information during the investigation of Ringer's disappearance.
Ringer's car had been found less than a half-mile from Reilly's address.
Capeless unexpectedly announced his retirement on Thursday morning, paving the way for one of his assistant DAs to be appointed to his post so he could run as an incumbent in November's election. The timing of the announcement, so close to the discovery of the body, had a number of Springfield area media openly speculating that it would be focused on the Ringer case.
On Thursday, Capeless said the timing was a "coincidence" and that his retirement announcement had been planned a long time in advance and that the Ringer family had been told privately what it was regarding.
Ringer's body was positively identified late Thursday afternoon and the media notified shortly before 8 p.m.
Conn. Police Arrest Clarksburg Man Wanted in Adams Shooting
ADAMS, Mass. — A Clarksburg man who is wanted in connection with last Wednesday's shooting in Adams has been arrested in Connecticut on unrelated charges while at least two other men are still being sought.
Gage M. Sherman, 20, of McLagen Drive, was arrested in Bristol, Conn., this past weekend for conspiracy to commit murder related to a shooting in Bristol on Friday.
A warrant seeking his return to Massachusetts to answer to charges in the Adams shooting has been lodged with Connecticut authorities, according the district attorney's office.
The shooting at 30 North Summer St. last Wednesday severely injured one man who was taken to Berkshire Medical Center, where he underwent surgery and remains hospitalized. Police have declined to confirm the victim's name or release much information regarding the incident.
Sherman will be arraigned on a charge of unarmed robbery when he is returned to Massachusetts, according to the DA's office. The investigation remains ongoing with the potential for further criminal charges being sought.
Investigators believe the shooting was an isolated incident and not a random act. Authorities are still searching for two other men both described as black -- one thin, standing 5-foot-6 with a possible neck tattoo and last seen wearing a red hooded windbreaker with a red baseball cap and the second with a medium to heavy build, standing 5-foot-7 with moderate facial hair, short curly black hair and last seen wearing black sweat pants and black fleece jacket.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Adams Police Department at 413-743-1212 or state police detectives at 413-499-1112.
Sherman was arrested with Juan E. Ocasio, also 20 and from Massachusetts, after police responded to shots fired in front of a home on Pleasant View Avenue on Friday night in Briston. No one was reportedly injured in that shooting. Both men were being held on $500,000 bail.
Motorist Misses Hairpin Turn, Speeds Into Golden Eagle Parking Lot
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — A driver headed up the Mohawk Trail missed the Hairpin Turn completely on Wednesday and sped through the small parking lot at the Golden Eagle Restaurant and slammed into owner's pickup truck.
The accident occurred around 1:30 p.m. and restaurant owner John Morris said it was the second time that day someone had missed the turn and ended up in his parking lot.
This time, it was a small Buick Lacrosse sedan whose driver either failed to negotiate the tight turn or didn't realize it was there. He barreled through the parking lot, hit Morris' white Ford F250 and pushed it into a small shed at the end of the lot. The driver was able to back up the vehicle but it began to smoke.
The driver, an elderly man, was the only occupant in the car. He was taken by North Adams Ambulance Service for medical treatment.
The Golden Eagle has been the site of numerous crashes over the years, largely from trucks and vehicles coming down the steep incline. A stone wall was built to prevent cars from hitting the two-story restaurant, perched at the very tip of the hairpin.
But Morris said the problem is now the cars coming up the mountain who are failing to note the 15 mph speed limit and signs warning of the turn ahead. He's been putting orange cones out along his driveway as a visual reminder but had pushed them to the side today for delivery trucks to get in. The restaurant serves an annual Thanksgiving dinner for hundreds.
The Buick incurred severe damage to the front end and was towed by Mohawk Towing. The damage to the truck wasn't clear but the shed's doors were knocked in and it appeared to have shifted.
North Adams and Clarksburg police responded as did the Clarksburg Fire Department.