Court documents reveal chilling details in case of missing Clarksburg woman Joanne Ringer
CLARKSBURG — Police began tracking the movements of Charles "Chad" Reidy using a GPS device just days after they began investigating the disappearance of his wife, Joanne "Jo" Ringer.
Text messages between the pair signaled a pattern of violent behavior by Reidy against Ringer, including an incident in which he strangled her to the point of unconsciousness. And Ringer allegedly had associations with the Hells Angels that Reidy told police made him uncomfortable.
Those were among the details revealed in court documents obtained by The Eagle on Thursday regarding the investigation into Ringer's disappearance in early March.
Reidy, 42, who took his own life on April 7, is the sole suspect in the case, which is being treated as a homicide. Ringer's body has yet to be found.
The documents describe a vigorous investigation by police into cellphone and text records, interviews, and efforts to track Reidy's movements that depicted erratic driving patterns and alterations to Reidy's car that led police to believe he was planning to move Ringer's body.
From the earliest stages of the investigation, police were suspicious of Reidy.
"Numerous and in-depth investigative measures ... have provided little evidence to definitively clear Reidy of any potential involvement in his wife's disappearance," police said in the documents.
Reidy was interviewed by police on March 4 after he reported his wife had been missing since the morning of March 2.
He said he delayed reporting the disappearance because he thought he needed to wait at least 24 hours before notifying police of a missing adult.
During that interview, he told police Ringer had received a call that day on what he described as a "Charlie phone" he said was provided to her by the Hells Angels. He said the purpose of the phone was to allow the group to contact her if they needed her to tend bar at a function or run some kind of errand for them.
Reidy told police he was uncomfortable with her associations with the Hells Angels, but described the relationship between himself and Ringer, "like peas and carrots."
Police contacted members of the Lee chapter of the Hells Angels and learned they were aware Ringer was missing, but had no knowledge of her whereabouts. No members of the group have been implicated in Ringer's disappearance.
Ringer, 39, left that morning and was expected to pick up a GPS device from a friend and report to her first shift at an Easthampton taxi company that evening. She never arrived.
"We felt uncomfortable with the fact we were told she was excited to start a new job but then never shows up," police wrote in a search warrant affidavit. "We were also uncomfortable with the explanation of the 'Charlie phone.'"
'Argue and insult'
A search of the house didn't show that items were packed or that Ringer was preparing to travel anywhere and she hadn't made arrangements for the care of her dogs, ducks and chickens, which friends and family say she would have if she were leaving the area.
Police said the only thing of note they found in that search was a partially full container of gasoline in the trunk of Reidy's car.
On March 5, Ringer's daughter, Savanah, was able to provide police with access to her mother's Facebook account.
"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 court files.
Several messages from January 2017 contain information that Ringer was physically abused by Reidy.
Ringer believed Reidy had lied to her from the start of their relationship and that he had been hiding information from her.
"Liar, shady, abusive, degrading jerk," were some of the terms she used to describe Reidy in those messages.
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."
In another message, she confronted Reidy with information he was hiding communications with ex-girlfriend Laura Reilly by identifying her in his phone contacts as "Pete."
Reidy did not tell police he was continuing a relationship with Reilly during any of their interviews with him.
Reilly and Reidy were together on several occasions after Ringer went missing and were apparently in regular contact before and after the disappearance, police said.
"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."
Police said there was a "significant history" of domestic violence between Reidy and Reilly as well.
Reilly faces three counts of misleading police in connection with the investigation, but has not been accused of causing Ringer any harm.
Messages between Ringer and a friend allege that Reidy was threatening to kill chickens and ducks being kept on their property.
In a Nov. 8, 2016, Facebook message to a friend, Ringer said, "Things have escalated here and it's not safe." In a message dated Jan. 1, 2017, she said Reidy had given her a fat lip and injured one of her ribs.
"I'm doing what it takes to stay alive," she wrote.
On Dec. 23, 2016, Ringer recorded the apparent assault by Reidy, during which he allegedly put a gun to her head and throttled her to the point of unconsciousness.
Low seat position
On March 6, Ringer's car was found in Easthampton, less than a mile from Reilly's home. Ringer's wallet with her ID, insurance card and other items, including her taxi license were found inside.
Police said the seat was positioned for someone very short. According to RMV information, Ringer's height is listed as 5 feet, 7 inches, Reilly is listed as 5 feet, 2 inches.
There had been no activity on Ringer's phone after about 1:15 p.m. March 2. There was no further social media activity, nor was there any contact with people she spoke to on a regular basis.
Police found no evidence she was contemplating suicide or planning a trip or extended vacation and the Office of Homeland Security confirmed that Ringer had not traveled outside of the United States.
On March 13, barely a week after Reidy reported his wife missing, investigators were granted permission to place a GPS tracking device on Reidy's vehicle.
Due to the remote location of Reidy's home and a pending snowstorm, they were unable to attach the device at that time.
A device was placed on his vehicle on March 16, while Reidy was speaking with investigators at the North Adams office of the state police detective unit.
Two days later, the battery in the device had failed and authorities placed another device on his car on March 24, while Reidy was again meeting with investigators in North Adams.
"By continuing to monitor Reidy's vehicle via GPS, investigators will be able to track (his) vehicle and determine if it travels to any remote areas and is stationary for any length of time," police wrote.
On March 28, Reidy's car traveled from his house into Stamford, Vt. via Route 8, stayed there for about five minutes and returned home.
At one point, Reidy's vehicle left his house and traveled to the hairpin turn on Route 2, near the Golden Eagle restaurant traveling at an extremely slow rate of speed, turned around and headed back to Clarksburg.
Investigators said Reidy traveled often to the Northampton area using non-consistent routes and operated his vehicle in a "highly erratic manner," such as the extremely slow speed he used along the hairpin turn, and the brief trip out of state, before returning home.
Sometime between March 16 and 24, Reidy had affixed a trailer hitch to his vehicle, which police thought he may use to tow an off-road vehicle to a remote location and use that to move Ringer's body.
"Reidy likely believes he is the target of this investigation and may feel pressure to conceal his crime," police said. "This, coupled with the discovery of the trailer hitch on his vehicle has led investigators to believe that Reidy may attempt to move Ringer's body via an off-road vehicle to an area so remote that investigators would likely never locate it."
Reach staff writer Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249 or @BobDunn413 on Twitter.
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