Ronda Reynolds may have died 12 years ago, but her mother’s quest to bring closure by finding her killer has kept it one of Lewis County’s most notorious and fascinating deaths.
So on Wednesday night, when a throng attended Centralia College’s Corbet Theatre for a free chance to hear famous crime writer Ann Rule and Reynolds’ mother, Barb Thompson, discuss Rule’s latest book, “In the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds and Her Mother’s Unceasing Quest for the Truth,” custodian Gary Haney had to turn people away for the first time in his nine years working the doors.
Reynolds, 33, was found dead December 1998 on the floor of her walk-in closet with a gunshot wound to her head. She reportedly had a pillow on her face and an electric blanket over her head, but no initial crime scene photo was taken.
The Lewis County Coroner’s Office originally ruled Reynolds’ manner of death as “undetermined.” It would change the manner of death three more times – suicide, undetermined, suicide – over the years to finally rest with the statement that Reynolds took her own life with a gun.
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Thompson and a team of pro bono investigators, a forensic pathologist and an attorney persuaded a Lewis County jury in a civil hearing to order that Coroner Terry Wilson’s death manner for Reynolds as undetermined was arbitrary and capricious. The jury also ruled that Reynolds did not commit suicide.
Rule said it’s easy to understand why the case is so fascinating to many people — because once you learn Reynolds’ story, “you can’t turn away.”
Rule ended her book with a surprising but unproven theory about how Reynolds’ killer may have been one of two teenagers partying with her stepsons the night before she was found dead.
With publication of the book, a $30,000 reward is available to anyone with information leading to an arrest and conviction for Reynolds’ death, Thompson said.