Crime Writer Helps Mother Find Justice for the Death of her Daughter on 48 HOURS, 12/15
Ron Reynolds found the lifeless body of his wife, Ronda Reynolds, in their Toledo, Wash., home one morning in 1998. She was dead from a gunshot wound to the head. He said it looked like a suicide, and eventually the coroner's office called it one, too. At the time, there had been trouble in the marriage and some difficulties between Ron's wife and her stepson, Jonathan. Before she died, Ronda Reynolds said the marriage was over.
However, Ronda's mother, Barb Thompson, didn't believe it was suicide at all. Thompson launched her own investigation and turned to true-crime writer Ann Rule for help. Rule says the first time she heard of Ronda Reynolds' death, "I felt a tingling at the back of my neck. Something wasn't right."
As Peter Van Sant reports in an update to "Mystery on Twin Peaks Drive" to be broadcast Dec. 15, 2012 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, Rule was intrigued by the case. "It was homicide, absolutely homicide," Rule tells Van Sant.
Both Ron and Jonathan deny having anything to do with the incident, saying they've been hurt by a suicide in their family. "There's no way that any of us could ever do anything like we're accused of," Ron Reynolds says.
However, after a decade of pushing by Thompson, Washington authorities opened a rare coroner's inquest to decide whether Ronda Reynolds committed suicide or was killed. The inquest was not an official trial, there was no judge or lawyers, and would be decided by a five-person jury. They listened as the coroner presented evidence and questioned witnesses. When it was over, the scales of justice were tested. Neither Ron or Jonathan Reynolds, Barb Thompson or Ann Rule were prepared for what would unfold next.
"Barb Thompson, in my estimation, has made a Jerry Springer show out of this whole thing," Ron Reynolds says.
"In my mind, with all my experience, there's no way that Ronda Reynolds killed herself," says Rule. "So if she didn't kill herself, she wasn't struck down with a gun that dropped from heaven, somebody shot her."
To piece together the story, Van Sant talks to Thompson, Ron and Jonathan Reynolds, law enforcement officials and Rule, whose work with Reynolds resulted in the book In the Still of The Night. "Mystery on Twin Peaks Drive" is produced by Susan Mallie, Dena Goldstein and Mead Stone. Update producers are Linda Martin and Suzanne Allen. Al Briganti is the executive editor. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.