On Sunday, new Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod settled perhaps the most contentious issue ever to arise from within the coroner's office: changing Ronda Reynolds' manner of death on her death certificate from "suicide" to "undetermined."
All the coroner had to do was sign and send an affidavit to the state Public Health Department asking for the correction, which the previous coroner refused to do.
“I felt that whoever won the election should do it,” McLeod said Monday, noting that it would take the health department at least a couple of days to formalize the ruling.
In November 2009, Reynolds’ mother, Barb Thompson, and a team of pro bono investigators convinced a Lewis County jury in a civil hearing that Reynolds’ death certificate ruling by Coroner Terry Wilson was wrong. Wilson refused to change the death certificate and appealed the decision.
Reynolds’ case is perhaps Lewis County’s most infamous; it recently was detailed in a true-crime novel by author Ann Rule.
The 33-year-old Reynolds was found dead in 1998 in her Toledo home’s bedroom closet by her husband; she had a gunshot wound to her head and a blanket covering her. Expert witness testimony in the civil hearing noted several pieces of evidence that showed it was unlikely Reynolds had shot herself.
Wilson had been the county coroner since 1982. Last year he chose not to seek re-election.
Reynolds’ husband, Ron, is the principal at Toledo Elementary School.