published Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Man gets life in prison for suffocating 70-year-old woman with cellophane

A laborer who killed a 70-year-old East Ridge woman by suffocating her in her Hardin Drive home in 2011 has been sentenced to life in prison for the crime.

Randall Reed was sentenced Tuesday by Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern. He was found guilty of first-degree murder in the June 15, 2011, slaying of Jane Stokes.

Reed had done work on a fence at Stokes' 707 Hardin Drive home before her murder and returned to steal her debit card.

Prosecutors said that, from working at the house, Reed knew the elderly Stokes lived alone and rose at 5 a.m. on weekdays for her job at local accounting firm Henderson, Hutcherson and McCullough.

The man bound Stokes' hands behind her back with black zip-ties and wrapped her head in cellophane. Within hours of her death ATM cameras captured photographs of Reed withdrawing money from Stokes' account.

Reed testified on the second day of his April trial that he didn't kill Stokes. He said his drug dealer, Milo Geiger, had given him the card to withdraw money in exchange for drugs.

Geiger testified during the trial that he never met Stokes and didn't know Reed.

And investigators found DNA and Stokes' makeup on clothing Reed wore. They also found a 100-count pack of the same type of zip ties used to bind Stokes at Reed's home. The bag contained 78 ties. They found 22 ties at Stokes' home.

A jury took less than three hours after the three-day April trial to find Reed guilty of murder, theft and robbery.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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