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Man gets life sentence in decades-old cold case surrounding wife's murder

1 year 2 months 2 weeks ago Monday, January 30 2023 Jan 30, 2023 January 30, 2023 10:16 PM January 30, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

HAMMOND - Prosecutors in Tangipahoa Parish have brought a close to a murder case that shocked the Hammond community nearly 40 years ago.

District Attorney Scott Perrilloux said Monday that Reginald Reed was formally sentenced to life in prison without parole in the decades-old murder case surrounding the death of his wife, Selonia Reed. 

Reed was found dead in a gas station parking lot on East Thomas Street back in 1987. It wouldn't be until 2019 that a grand jury was able to formally charge Reed thanks to a break in the case

Prosecutors said Reed was found guilty in November of second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence in Louisiana. 

Investigative reporter H.L. Arledge has followed the case since he was in college.

“These officers were walking around the clock, including the chief, and I was there with them, so I became invested in it. Over the years, it blew me away that it just fizzled out. The detectives at the time were confident that they had the right guy, but for some reason, the powers at be wouldn't charge him,” he said.

Selonia Reed was found beaten to death in her car behind the gas station, just minutes away from the couple’s home on Apple Street.

But how did Reed steer clear of being convicted? Arledge says Reed’s political ties in the area helped him. Two years after the murder, Reginald Reed ran for mayor of Hammond.

“The officers working this case had him as suspect number one. However, through his political connections, he was never charged,” Arledge said.

After decades of remaining unsolved, the Tangipahoa District Attorney’s office reviewed the case after reading Arledge’s cold case column. With the help of detectives from State Police, they were able to tie DNA evidence from a cigarette butt to co-defendant Jimmy Ray Barnes.

In the hours leading up to Selonia's murder, Reginald Reed and Barnes were seen together. 

“They went in and got all of the files, all of the evidence from the Hammond Police Department. They went and found all of the retired police officers, brought them all together, and as they say, the rest is history,” Arledge said.

The case that was swept under the rug decades ago was successfully solved through the hard work and cooperation of detectives, the district attorney and an investigative reporter that never gave up.

"This was a horrific crime and we just want to thank God for the closure. We want to thank the police, the district attorney, the investigative unit and forensics because it's been a long time coming," Selonia's family said.

Scott Perrilloux said the District Attorney's office didn't have enough evidence for the arrest in 1987. He also said with cases this old challenges present themselves. However, the case proved to be successful with new evidence and a testimony from Barnes leading to the conviction of Reginald Reed. 

"The wheels of justice turn slowly sometimes. If you commit a crime, especially a violent crime of this nature, it may be a week, it may be a month, it may be 35 years. If you get good people that want to fight for justice, just know your time will come," Assistant District Attorney Taylor Anthony said. 

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