Body of Joanne Ringer, missing nearly a year, found in Hatfield

Joanne "Jo" Ringer was last seen alive March 2, 2017. Her remains have been found in a wooded area in Hatfield, officials said Thursday.

CLARKSBURG — Just short of one year after Clarksburg's Joanne "Jo" Ringer went missing, a forensic odontologist confirmed Thursday afternoon that remains found in Hatfield this week are that of Ringer.

Ringer, who would have turned 40 in January, left her Clarksburg home March 2, 2017, to start her first shift at an Easthampton taxi company, but never arrived for her shift and never was heard from again. Her car was found four days later in Easthampton, not far from where she was to begin her job.

On Tuesday evening, police received a call about skeletal remains found in a remote wooded area of Hatfield. Using dental records, Dr. Kathleen Crowley, a forensic odontologist at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Boston, identified the remains as Ringer.

"We have made the collective decision not to comment until the vigil and memorial on Sunday," Ringer's close friend, Ginger Plantier, said Thursday evening on behalf of her family. "We just need more time to process everything that's happened in the last 24 hours. We knew the press release was coming out at 7:30."

A vigil and memorial service will be held Sunday to mark the one-year anniversary since her disappearance. The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the American Legion Post 344 on Prospect Street in Hatfield and had been planned before Ringer's remains were found.

Ringer's husband, 42-year-old Charles "Chad" M. Reidy of Clarksburg, committed suicide April 7 and is considered by the Berkshire District Attorney's Office to be the prime suspect in the death of his wife.

In addition to not reporting his wife missing for two days, Reidy's inconsistent statements to investigators led police to become suspicious of his involvement.

Before his death, police received authority to place a GPS tracking device on his vehicle to monitor his movements, but that surveillance never lead them to Ringer's body.

Hours before Plantier officially learned that the remains discovered in Hatfield belonged to her friend, she said she suspected that might be the case.

On Facebook, Ringer's daughter, Savanah Ringer, posted about the discovery of her mother's remains, which she called "bittersweet news."

"It's been almost a year since she went missing and every day I've wanted her to walk through that door and hug me and tell me she loved and missed me, but today I know for certain that will not happen," Ringer wrote. "I love her and miss her so much and i hope that everyone that was involved pays for what they did to her."

Throughout Thursday evening, Savanah Ringer's phone rang busy and she couldn't be reached.

A release from the Berkshire District Attorney's Office on Thursday night, announcing Ringer's identification, does not indicate whether the discovery of Ringer's remains will have any effect on the pending trial of Reidy's former girlfriend, Laura Reilly, who, two weeks after Reidy's suicide, was charged with three counts of misleading police in their investigation.

She has pleaded not guilty and faces a tentative September trial date in Berkshire Superior Court. Reilly is accused of giving false information to investigators regarding the whereabouts of herself and Reidy in the days after Ringer's disappearance.

Her attorney has said his client has nothing to do with Ringer's disappearance.

When reached at home Thursday evening, District Attorney spokesman Frederick Lantz declined to comment on any significance the discovery would have on Reilly's case, noting that the case is pending. 

"I think the release speaks for itself," he said. 

Court documents obtained by the Eagle in July outlined a pattern of violence by Reidy against Ringer, including an incident in which he strangled her until she was unconscious. 

Reidy told police that Ringer's alleged associations with the Hells Angels made him uncomfortable. 

"It is apparent through (Ringer and Reidy's) text message communications, that their relationship is filled with extreme highs and lows. Their messages show many occasions where they argue and insult one another," police said in the court files.

Several text messages from January 2017 contain information that Ringer was physically abused by Reidy. 

In one message, she accused him of "making her bleed and starve for air." In another, she told him he was abusive with his "hands and his word."

The messages also show that Ringer had confronted Reidy about communications with Reilly that he had been hiding from her. 

Reidy did not tell police he was continuing a relationship with Reilly during any of their interviews with him, but police learned that they were together several times before and after the disappearance. 

"However, almost all text messages between the two appear to have been permanently deleted from Reidy's cellphone," police said. "This indicates to investigators that Reidy and Reilly had communications prior to March 3, that they did not wish anyone else to ever view."

Staff reporter Bob Dunn contributed to this report.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.