Joanne Ringer case: Cellphone data, surveillance track husband's movements

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CLARKSBURG — When police entered Charles "Chad" Reidy's home at about 1:45 p.m. on April 7, they found him, in the garage, dead behind the wheel of his car.

Reidy, 42, whom police suspect killed his 39-year-old wife, Joanne "Jo" Ringer, had apparently killed himself with the car's exhaust. Reidy's skin tone — reddish — indicated carbon monoxide poisoning.

Inside the car, investigators found a key to Ringer's Volkswagen, which had been found abandoned in Easthampton on March 6, two days after Reidy reported her missing. 

Reidy left no suicide note. Police did, however, find in the kitchen a sheet of paper with instructions on how to care for the chickens kept on the property.

A missing person poster for Ringer was still hanging from the front door of the home.

Ringer went missing March 2. Her body has not been recovered.

According to court documents obtained this week by The Eagle that offered the insights above, the general search of Reidy's home offered no helpful clues. But extensive interviews and evidence ranging from surveillance video to cell phone tracking, police constructed a theory of what likely happened the day Ringer went missing.r

MORNING ARGUMENT

On the evening of March 2, Ringer was expected to begin her first shift at new job at an Easthampton-based taxi company. She never arrived.

Reidy and Ringer argued that morning, Reidy told police during an interview on April 5, two days before police found him dead inside his garage.

Reidy said he was uncomfortable with Ringer working nights as a cab driver where she would be picking up "degenerates." The argument started because Ringer didn't have a working cellphone and couldn't call for help if she got into trouble during work.

About 9 a.m., she made a 30-minute call to Verizon in an apparent attempt to get service. Reidy ordered a subsidized Safelink cellphone that morning.

In previous interviews with police, Reidy characterized their relationship as loving and stable, like "peas and carrots."

TRACKING MOVEMENTS

That day, Reidy visited the home of a friend in Worthington between 11 a.m. and noon and stayed for about 15 minutes.

Ringer was expected to stop by a friend's home in Easthampton to pick up a GPS unit before reporting to work, but she never did.

At about 2:18 p.m., her car was spotted on Exeter Street in Easthampton being driven by a lone individual. Police believe Reidy drove his wife's car to Easthampton, left it there, and then walked the nearby Manhan Rail Trial, which runs from Easthampton to Northampton, a distance of about 3 1/2 miles.

Forty-two minutes later, once in Northampton, Reidy borrowed a phone from a panhandler to contact Laura Reilly for a ride.

Reilly, 42, an ex-girlfriend of Reidy's from Easthampton, has since been indicted on three counts of misleading police in the investigation into Ringer's disappearance, but she has not been accused of doing her harm.

In three separate interviews on March 4, Reidy never mentioned traveling to Northampton on March 2.

But in his final interview with police, Reidy told them he traveled to Northampton on March 2 to pick up a check. He said his car broke down and he pulled it over on Trumbull Street, near King Street.

He told police he needed to borrow a phone due to spotty cell service in that area. Police questioned him on that point, knowing it wasn't true, and Reidy changed his account, saying his phone may not have been working properly due to a recent system update.

"UNTRUE" STATEMENTS

Police said Reidy's phone did not leave the North Adams area during the time in question. 

"Both of these statements regarding his phone are untrue," police said. "Reidy borrowed the phone because he had left his [phone] in North Adams, presumably so that his movements could not be traced by investigators."

Reidy reached Reilly at about 3:06 p.m. He said his car broke down and asked if she could drive him to Greenfield.

Phone records show Reilly drove from Easthampton to Northampton about five minutes later.

Reidy and Reilly were together at 3:27 p.m. at a Florence Savings Bank branch on King Street, Northampton. There, Reidy made an ATM withdrawal and left with Reilly in her car.

Ten minutes later, the pair stopped at a Cumberland Farms on King Street. There, Reidy bought gas for Reilly's car. Reilly bought cigarette rolling papers.

Between 3:40 and 4:45 p.m., records show Reilly's phone traveling from Northampton to Greenfield and then on west to the North Adams area via Route 2.

Records show Reilly's phone was at Reidy's address until approximately 8 p.m.; a debit card transaction shows her in the North Adams area at 8:30 p.m.

Both Reidy and Reilly gave police inconsistent accounts of their time on that day.

Reidy said Reilly picked him up and the two went to the bank and then to Cumberland Farms to put gas in her car.

He then said he and Reilly went to Greenfield, then turned around for Northampton where they picked up his car, which was then working. Reidy implied the pair then drove their separate vehicles back to Clarksburg.

Police found that account "implausible," since it didn't make sense that Reidy's car was broken down and then worked again later with no repairs having been done.

Police also said the pair could not have left Northampton at 2:30 p.m., traveled to Greenfield, back to Northampton, then back to Greenfield, to be in the North Adams area between 4:30 and 5 p.m.

Reilly originally told police she left Reidy's Clarksburg home at about 4 or 5 p.m., though her phone and debit card records dispute that.

ONGOING AFFAIR

Other information came to light during subsequent police interviews with Reidy and Reilly, including the nature of the ongoing relationship between the pair.

Reidy and Ringer were married in Vermont on Dec. 13, 2016. Reidy told police that sometime during that December, he and Reilly had slept together while Ringer was out of town for a couple of days.

Shortly after they married, Reidy assaulted Ringer by throttling her to the point of unconsciousness; 10 days after they got married, he put a gun to her head during an argument, according to police interviews. In the wake of that assault, Ringer went to stay with a friend in Hampshire County. She returned to Clarksburg on Dec. 26.

Friends of Ringer have said she referred to her marriage as a "mistake" in January. She said if anything happened to her, Reidy would likely be behind it.

Reidy also told police that Reilly had slept over at his home on March 4, the same day he reported Ringer's disappearance to police.

In a separate interview, Reilly acknowledged staying over on March 4, and that Reidy didn't appear worried that Ringer might come home and find her there.

HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

Reidy apparently was involved in another tumultuous relationship with a woman in Colorado in 1996 and 1997.

Reidy himself was reported missing by his then-girlfriend on Nov. 4, 1996. He returned home on Nov. 22.

Four days later, on Nov. 26, 1996, Reidy's girlfriend contacted police and told them Reidy had pushed or thrown her to the floor, giving her a stress fracture on her hip. The girlfriend also reported that Reidy threw a beer bottle at her during an argument over his drug use.

Reidy was arrested for that assault on Nov. 29, 1996.

Reidy told police he had an extensive history of both being exposed to and committing acts of domestic violence, including with his own family, Reilly, whom he had known since high school, his Colorado girlfriend, and Ringer. His Colorado girlfriend, in May 1997, stabbed him in the chest.

He told police he was always the battered party, but information from Colorado and his admission to choking Ringer dispute that claim, and he eventually admitted to authorities that his relationship with Ringer was abusive.

The investigation is being conducted by Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, the Massachusetts State Police crime scene services section, and the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office with the assistance of the Clarksburg, North Adams, Northampton and Easthampton police departments.

Reach staff writer Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249 or @BobDunn413 on Twitter.


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