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Tuesday, April 21, 2009


...It's such an unprecedented legal move that the judge has to make up the rules. For Thompson, it's her last opportunity to make her case...


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Court to review 10-year-old suicide ruling
The Seattle Times
By Ian Ith
Monday, April 20, 2009
[EXCERPTS] All these years have gone by, and Barb Thompson still clenches with teary-eyed anger when she lingers outside this little house at 114 Twin Peaks Drive.
She stood here 10 years ago, too. In December 1998. The day after her daughter, Ronda Reynolds, a 33-year-old former state trooper, was found dead inside. Curled up in the bedroom closet with a bullet in her brain. Reynolds' husband said she had killed herself. So did the sheriff's department and the county coroner. Thompson didn't buy it. Not then. Not now. So Thompson has been on a single-minded mission to prove her daughter was slain. She has publicly battled the Lewis County sheriff's office and the local coroner for 10 years, demanding they investigate the case as a murder. She believes they are covering up their ineptitude by refusing to face facts. She has surrounded herself with allies and experts, including the former lead sheriff's detective who quit over the case. She has shown anyone who will take the time reams of documents and piles of grisly photos. She now will get her day in court. Under a never-before-used state law, Thompson has won the right to have a Thurston County judge evaluate the case and, if Thompson has her way, possibly change Reynolds' death certificate. It's such an unprecedented legal move that the judge has to make up the rules. For Thompson, it's her last opportunity to make her case... Ronda Reynolds had been married not quite a year when her life ended in the early morning of Dec. 16, 1998. Her husband, Ron Reynolds, the principal of the local elementary school, called 911 and calmly reported that his wife had committed suicide... Barb Thompson says all she ever wanted were believable answers, but they never came. "That's all I've ever asked: Show me the evidence that shows suicide," she said. "Does anyone think I've enjoyed the torture I've gone through for the last 10 years? I just want the truth"... In 2006, the state attorney general's office was asked to look at the case. The resulting report listed nearly a dozen mistakes that the sheriff's office had made. Nonetheless, it determined that the evidence pointed to suicide. Thompson vehemently disputes that conclusion as inconsistent with the physical evidence. She alleges the sheriff's office gave the attorney general's investigators limited information designed to steer them toward agreeing with the initial investigation. So she's pinning her last hope on the Thurston County judge. In 1987, a state law was changed to make coroner's rulings subject to "judicial review." Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks, who received the case because all Lewis County judges recused themselves, now will decide whether to overturn the coroner and classify Ronda Reynolds' death as a homicide. No one has ever pressed such a case before. In a court hearing scheduled for Friday, Hicks could announce how he plans to proceed. What he decides probably will make all the difference. Thompson wants Hicks to call a jury to look at all the evidence she has assembled and call witnesses, including the coroner. "We need him to tell the judge in his own words how he came to this conclusion"... Justice noted, even if Hicks determines the death was homicide, it doesn't obligate the sheriff's office to pursue an arrest. Thompson is the first to acknowledge that. In fact, all these years later, she admits she has come to her own conclusion, as much as she hates to admit it: No one will be punished. Too much time has gone by; too much has been lost. What jury would convict someone of murder when even the sheriff and coroner won't say the death was homicide? Despite her thick binders of evidence, and her years of work, Thompson said she has to be honest with herself: "I can tell you beyond a reasonable doubt my daughter was murdered, but I cannot tell you beyond a reasonable doubt who killed her." But she said she believes that, if she can succeed in court this time, at least the public will know she was right. "I think once I get the death certificate changed, I have to say my job is done," she said. "And God will give me justice."... [FULL ARTICLE HERE]


Ronda Reynolds

My daughter, Ronda Reynolds, 33, was discovered dead of a gunshot wound to her head, in Toledo, Washington, on December 16, 1998. She died on the floor of her master bedroom walk-in closet, following a heated argument with her husband. The scene was contaminated by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department before the lead detective, Jerry Berry, ever got there... I could get on with my life if Ronda had been killed in an accident. I could even have accepted suicide, if it truly was suicide. But having to deal every day with a police cover-up – reading and rereading the case file, finding investigative mistakes and reading the blatant lies that have been manufactured to conceal those blunders, keeps the wound of my loss open with no chance of healing. To live without closure is unbearable... [Full text here]


  1. Ronda will finally rest in peace! The court has rulled it a "Homicide"! Her husband & step son will get punished for thier acts in Ronda's death.

  2. It's so amazing. I was following yesterday, waitng til' 4pm for the verdict - then when I checked back and saw that they named the suspects I clapped up into the air. Ronda's mom was able to say "I did it Ronda." What a DAY. I will definitely be posting something. But the important part is done. (HOW TACKY to plead the 5th. And what a dark family bond to share between a father and son.) There are no real winners. As "happy" as I initially felt to hear the verdict it quickly settled down into something more real, somber, and peaceful: the most justice possible for Ronda under the circumstances.

    Ronda, what a mom you have. I ask God to bless everyone who supported and helped her at any point along her uphill, rocky way. She is one of my heros - or sheros - now, and she will always come to mind when I am thniking about tenacity and pushing on in love even when your heart is broken - and pushing and pushing through anything that looks like an obstacle or an ending - and pushing through focused on what is right and true, until finally you arrive. NOW she can rest her feet and sleep sweet again. It's been a very very long time. <3


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