Linda Reed vanished from Copiah County a year ago
One year ago Tuesday, Copiah County bookkeeper Linda Reed’s family awoke to a nightmare.
The 65-year-old mother and grandmother was missing, her truck located in a remote spot not far from the interstate, her phone, purse and glasses left behind.
Through the year since, parts of the story have continued to be nightmares, no doubt. Reed’s husband, Lou Reed, couldn’t talk about his missing wife without tears coming to his eyes during the time she was missing. Her son, Chris Sessums, and his wife, Trina, led a continued group of steadfast volunteers who trampled through the thick Copiah County undergrowth to look for signs of her. Her grandchildren had to wonder what could have happened to their grandmother.
Five months after her disappearance, Reed was found after a Google search by a co-worker in Texas, where she had relocated. Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones and other officials made their way back to Mississippi with her, glad they could tell her family she was under arrest but alive.
Reed was charged with embezzlement of $20,200 from the petty cash fund of Moore’s Fabrications in Gallman, where she had worked since 1999. She has been in jail since she was brought back to Mississippi.
Her attorney, John Reeves, said the fact she disappeared and went to Texas, doesn’t mean she’s guilty of a crime.
“So what? We live in a free country where people are free to travel and live where they want to live. Her having moved to Texas is irrelevant to anything, but it’s sensational and the media has latched on to it,” he said. “The only thing important to this case is whether or not Mrs. Reed took the employer’s money, and that has to be shown through financial records and bank records and the like — not the fact that she went to Texas.”
Said Jones: “No, it’s not against the law to move from Mississippi to Texas, but let me put it this way: What if your mother did that? There would have to be reasons why. That’s why we’re trying to put the pieces together to try to figure it out.”
Reeves said he advised Reed’s family not to speak publicly on the case anymore, as it could taint a potential jury pool.
“My own experience tells me that media involvement and court cases don’t got together too well. A court case is determined according to strict rules of procedure and evidence,” Reeves said. “What people see hear and read in media productions most of the time is not even admissible in a court of law.”
Jones said at this point his team is focused on simply sewing up the evidence to get Reed indicted. He said at this point there’s nothing to be won in the court of public opinion.
“The witnesses and the evidence will convict, not what I say, not what Reeves says. It’s what the jury thinks,” he said.
A grand jury in January did not indict Reed on the embezzlement charges.
The next grand jury will be held in June, and Reeves said he will await the outcome before submitting a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
Jones said he is ready for the case to come to a resolution, and not as much for his own sake as for Reed’s family.
“I’m ready for closure for a couple of reasons, to establish exactly what happened,” he said. “To have answers for Mr. Lou (Reed) and all these children and for the rest of us to move forward with our lives. This has been at the forefront of Mrs. Reed’s family’s thinking every day for a year and almost a day now.”
Neither Reed’s family nor her former employer could be reached for comment.
By Therese Apel | Clarion Ledger