Lewis County has had its share of homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths, many of them connected either to the I-5 freeway or to the trains that rumble through almost every hour.
Coroner Terry Wilson has ruled on the “manner of death” for most of them. Wilson is neither a medical doctor nor a forensic pathologist. He is a “PA,” a physician’s assistant. He earns $35,000 a year as coroner, and works in a local clinic as a PA, too. That isn’t particularly unusual, because many of the outlying and smaller counties in Washington employ the coroners’ system, while Pierce, King, Snohomish, Spokane, and larger counties have medical examiners who are medical doctors or forensic pathologists. The latter are the best educated, most skilled, and most experienced in detecting time, cause and manner of death.
Either medical examiners or coroners can make or break the successful solution to a sudden and violent death.
Ronda Reynolds was thirty-three, healthy, and beautiful when she died on December 16, 1998. She was still what would be considered a bride—though on the verge of divorce—when her brain was destroyed by a bullet just beside her right temple.
But why and how? Almost a dozen years later, both those who had known and loved her and those who had only read about her were still asking questions.
On November 2, 2009, in the Lewis County Law and Justice Center, a precedent-setting hearing began. It was a civil hearing, one long sought by Barbara Thompson, Ronda Reynolds’s mother. Although Ronda, a former Washington State Patrol trooper, had been dead nearly eleven years, there were questions about what really happened to her and what led to the tragedy just before a long-ago Christmas. There had been few solid answers, only massive speculation that seemed to grow every year.
The hearing in the Chehalis courtroom was not to decide on who—if anyone—had killed Ronda; it was to evaluate Coroner Terry Wilson and his staff’s handling of Ronda’s case. Had Wilson been irresponsible on December 16, 1998, and thereafter? Under orders, his staff had done a perfunctory investigation of her death. Had it been enough? Or had her dying been swept under the rug and dismissed?
Barb Thompson believed fervently that it had.
It was still dark at 6:20 on the morning Ronda’s husband of less than a year—Ron Reynolds—called 911. He told the sheriff’s dispatcher that his wife had committed suicide. It appeared to be “an open-and-shut case.”
But was it?
From IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT by Ann Rule. Copyright © 2010 by Ann Rule. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Make yourself comfortable—at the edge of your seat! That’s where you’ll be throughout this chilling true story of infidelity, lies and murder….
On December 15, 1998, Ronda Reynolds had been married just shy of a year when she was discovered dead from a gunshot wound to her head. Her family, who had been anxiously awaiting her arrival for the Christmas holidays, knew she was unhappy. Ronda believed her husband, Ron, a school principal, was having an affair. But a decade would pass before her cause of death, first ruled suicide—then, unknown—would be revisited. How Ronda’s mother worked tirelessly to bring a case against the man she is convinced murdered her daughter makes In the Still of the Night another Ann Rule masterpiece.
Hardcover Book : 432 pages
Publisher: Free Press/ Division of Simon & Schuste ( October 12, 2010 )
Item #: 13-114723
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.97inches
Product Weight: 16.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Another great one by Ann Rule. Usually she does not cover just one story but this one deserved the attention she gave it. Looking forward to more books by her!
Ms Rule is one of my favorite authors and I always look forward to her books. This one was a disappointment though. So much detail about the different characters that I became bored at times.
I LOVED THIS BOOK..I TRY TO READ ALL OF ANN RULE BOOKS..SHE IS A GREAT WRITER..GETTING READY TO READ BUT I TRUSTED YOU..
Reviewer: Vickie H
I am an avid true crime reader and Ann Rule is one of the best authors in the genre. This book was a huge disappointment! The mother's quest for justice was well-developed but I never felt that I got to know any of the other central figures and what made them "tick". Why did Rhonda marry Ron? She sounded like a self-sufficient woman and he sounded like a creep and a bully! Ron, Rhonda, Katie, and Ron's sons all remain an enigma. It was an interesting story but, unfortunately, just like the unresolved outcome, a disheartening read. I look forward to Ann's next book, hopefully it will be as good as her previous books. This one did not measure up!
I've always been a fan of Ann's books and this one is no exception. It makes me wonder if the Lewis County officials shouldn't be investigated. Sounds like these people are a little backward and Keystone Cops just about fits. Good read, couldn't put it down.