January 5, 2011 in City

Coroner changes ruling on trooper’s death

Nancy Bartley Seattle Times
 

Barb Thompson, a Spokane woman who has spent years trying to prove her daughter’s death was not a suicide, has won a major victory.

On Monday, Lewis County’s newly elected coroner, Warren McLeod, submitted an affidavit to change Ronda Reynolds’ death certificate from suicide to undetermined cause.

Reynolds, a Washington State Patrol trooper, was getting a divorce when she was shot in the head in December 1998. Her body was found in the closet of the family home in Toledo, Wash.

 From the start, Thompson didn’t believe her daughter’s death was a suicide. Reynolds had been planning to leave her husband, after they’d been married less than a year, and return home to Spokane to see her mother the next day. The next thing Thompson knew, her 33-year-old daughter was dead.

Thompson began a campaign to change the listed cause of death. She got the support of numerous investigators who helped her without charge. Her quest resulted in a 2010 Ann Rule book, “In the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds and Her Mother’s Unceasing Quest for the Truth.”

In 2009, a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled that the coroner must change Reynolds’ death certificate from suicide and ruled that Coroner Terry Wilson had been “arbitrary and capricious” in making the ruling. Wilson, coroner until McLeod’s election last fall, appealed the decision.

McLeod said he will investigate the entire Reynolds case, reviewing autopsy notes, interviews and other materials.


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