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Michelle Sullins REYNOLDS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Love triangle
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 5, 2004
Date of arrest: 3 days after
Date of birth: 1969
Victim profile: Hollywood Baptist Church deacon Thad John Glenn Reynolds, 36 (her husband)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Floyd County, Georgia, USA
Status: Pleads guilty. Sentenced to 20 years in prison in January 2010

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Michelle Reynolds pleads guilty to manslaughter, burglary

By John Bailey -

January 13, 2010

Michelle Reynolds has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and burglary in connection with the 2004 death of her husband. She has been sentenced to 20 years in prison and to have no contact with her children. She will get credit for time served, and has been in jail since July 2004.

She appeared in Floyd County Superior Court at 9:30 a.m. today in front of Judge J. Bryant Durham and entered the guilty plea — just two weeks prior to the scheduled beginning of her trial on murder charges.

She was charged with the July 5, 2004, murder of her then-husband, Hollywood Baptist Church deacon Thad John Glenn Reynolds. He was found stabbed to death outside of his place of work — a Frito Lay distribution center on Calhoun Road.

Investigators maintain that Michelle Reynolds and Richard Scott Harper, who attended the same church, were having an affair and plotted to kill Thad Reynolds.

Police said Harper wielded the murder weapon.

In Oct. 2005, the district attorney announced her intention to seek the death penalty in both cases.

Harper pleaded guilty to murder charges in October 2008 with an understanding that the district attorney’s office would not seek the death penalty for either defendant if he testified during Reynolds’ trial.

He agreed to a sentence of life imprisonment without parole as part of the deal. He is unlikely to be sentenced until Reynolds’ trial is over.


Woman Admits Killing Husband In Love Triangle

January 13, 2010

ROME, Ga. — A woman admitted in court that she plotted with a youth minister from her church, with whom she was having an affair, to murder her husband.

Michelle Sullins Reynolds pleaded guilty Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter in the death of her husband, Thad John Reynolds. Officials said Michelle Reynolds plotted with her lover to kill her husband at his workplace.

She was sentenced to a total of 20 years, minus the five years she's already served in jail.

A youth minister from the couple's church, Scott Harper, pleaded guilty in 2008 to stabbing church deacon Thad Reynolds to death in 2004. Harper killed Reynolds in a deadly love triangle, police said.

On July 5, 2004, Harper stabbed Reynolds, a 36-year-old father of four, to death when he arrived at the northwest Georgia Frito-Lay distribution center where Reynolds was a district manager. Police said Reynolds was stabbed 19 times.

Both Harper and the Reynolds family attended Hollywood Baptist Church in Rome where Harper was a youth minister and Thad Reynolds was a deacon and marriage counselor.


Reynolds, Harper both heading to prison

By John Bailey -

January 13, 2010

The case is shut, no trial is forthcoming, but there are still some unanswered questions.

More than five years after the murder of Thad John Glenn Reynolds — just two weeks prior to the scheduled beginning of a trial — Michelle Reynolds took a plea deal and agreed to be sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday and Scott Harper will begin to serve the rest of his natural life in a state penitentiary.

As District Attorney Leigh Patterson read a description of the events that lead to Harper’s arrest, he hung his head low. Earlier in the morning during her sentencing hearing Michelle Reynolds showed no emotion.

When given the chance, Harper gave a tearful address to the court during his sentencing.

“There’s nothing I can say to undo what was done,” he said through tears, calling his actions selfish and foolish, then apologized to his ex-wife and three daughters saying “I’m ashamed of the things I thought and did in 2004.”

Michelle Reynolds pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and a party to the crime of burglary for providing details to Harper about Thad Reynolds’ schedule and place of business in Floyd County Superior Court on Wednesday morning.

Harper earlier pleaded guilty in October 2008 to murder, aggravated battery and possession of a weapon in commission of a crime. He was sentenced to life without parole Wednesday afternoon.

“A lot of times we find out if the event could be undone — everyone would want it undone,” Harper’s attorney Christopher Adams told the court.

While some may say Harper’s tears, shed before his family and the court, are “alligator tears,” his attorney disagreed.

“He cries those tears when nobody is looking … He cries those tears when he’s alone in his cell, and he cries those tears in the morning and at night,” Adams told the court.

It was an acceptance of responsibility of her part in the slaying that drove Michelle Reynolds to accept the plea, her attorney Jimmy Berry said.

“In looking at the facts and circumstances our client felt some responsibility because she, as you heard, never told him to go do it,” Berry said. “But the innuendo is there and she certainly felt that was a moving force for her taking a plea.”

“We worked really hard with the DA to resolve the case to everybody’s benefit,” Berry said. “Certainly not having to try the case saves the county and state a considerable amount of money. Not that it’s the primary thing that you look at in these cases, but certainly that’s one aspect of it.”

The main issue for Thad Reynolds’ family was protecting Michelle Reynolds’ four daughters from her mother, Patterson said.

“They wanted for (the case) to be over and for the girls to be protected,” Patterson said.

“I just cannot get over that someone would have such a blatant affair and use their position as a minister and church member and just not care what happened to their seven little girls,” Patterson said.

The district attorney, in her statement of what the prosecution could have proven during the trial, said the evidence showed Michelle Reynolds and Scott Harper, who attended the same church, were having an “all consuming affair” that lead to a plot to kill Thad Reynolds.

‘Why? Why not just walk away?’

It was the one question Kitty Walker, the mother of Thad Reynolds, wanted to know five and a half years after his death.

As Michelle Reynolds was sentenced she uttered no words other than “yes, sir,” answering Judge J. Bryant Durham’s questions. After the hearing a laugh escaped her lips as she was handcuffed.

She had no answer for Thad Reynolds’ mother.

Michelle Reynolds was sentenced to 20 years in prison and is to have no contact with her children and will get credit for time served, as is mandated by law. She has been in jail since July 2004.

Her time served in Floyd County Jail is served on a day to day basis, without extra credit afforded to some prisoners.

According to Department of Corrections sentencing regulations, Reynolds will have to serve 65 to 90 percent of her time before being considered for parole.

“We will write letters and appear to oppose parole if and when she goes up for consideration,” Patterson said. “We discussed this with the family before we decided to offer this plea.”

Patterson said the decision to offer the plea was a hard one — but one Thad Reynolds’ family supported.

“We have a lot of evidence that showed they had an affair, that detailed the progress of the affair, the hotels they went to, the e-mails, text messages, cell phone records. We had a lot of evidence about their affair,” Patterson said.

What they had little of was Michelle Reynolds’ involvement in the planning of a murder.

“Until we got a statement from Scott Harper in 2008, which gave us a little bit more evidence of her part in the crime. It would have been a very hard case to prosecute against her,” the DA said.

“I don’t think we would have gotten a plea or any resolution on (Michelle) Reynolds’ case without the details from (Scott) Harper,” Patterson said.

‘I want what you got’

Scott Harper spoke those words as he confronted Thad Reynolds at the Frito Lay distribution center early in the morning on July 5, 2004. That’s what he told law enforcement officials.

Reynolds was found fatally stabbed at 6 a.m. at the Frito-Lay distribution center at 2605 Calhoun Road where he worked as a manager. A fellow employee reported that as he pulled up he noticed someone standing in the doorway to the office who appeared to be changing shirts.

A red minivan was parked next to Thad Reynolds’ car, and the employee noticed the man, who police say was Harper, drive off soon afterwards.

The sheath to a hunting knife and Harper’s prescription glasses were found at the scene.

Harper bought the knife from Kmart on July 1, 2004, and video evidence shows him buying the knife, Patterson said.

After the stabbing, police said, Harper went to Floyd Medical Center, where he also happened to work in the telecommunications department, to be treated for wounds to his right hand on the day of the murder.

He then hid the knife and bloody clothes in the data center at FMC, according to court testimony.

Four days after Reynolds was murdered, Floyd County police arrested his wife Michelle Reynolds and the Hollywood Baptist Church’s youth minister Richard Scott Harper, charging them with the murder and also alleging they had an affair.

State marriage and divorce records show Thad and Michelle Reynolds were first wed in 1987. They divorced in 1993, then remarried in 1997.

News of the murder brought national media attention to Rome and the church where Thad Reynolds served as a deacon and Harper as a family pastor.

The seven young girls and their families have since endured intense media coverage from near and far on the murder case.

‘You’re going to have to live longer than him to be with me’

In his statement to the DA, Harper said Michelle Reynolds told him he’d have to outlive Thad Reynolds in order to have her.

Joking, the couple discussed putting extra portions of butter in Thad Reynolds’ food to make his arteries clog so he’d pass away faster, according to the prosecution.

The jokes began to take a more insidious route and a plan to make two pots of spaghetti, one poisoned for Scott Harper’s then-wife Paige and Thad Reynolds then another for themselves.

The conversations continued about how they could be together without their spouses, who they referred to as “gnats” when Harper sent her an e-mail telling her “there are other ways.”

“If you talk with Thad, what if it gets ugly?” Michelle Reynolds asked Harper, according to testimony.

The defendant picked Harper up and they went behind the levy. She was distant and cold — she was not happy he hadn’t spoken or taken any action in regards to Thad Reynolds, he said.

He thought he was losing her.

The two families spent much time together at church functions and around town, especially in the days leading up to the murder. They attended the Fourth of July fireworks two days prior to the murder and had an Independence Day picnic together the day before.

She is said to have told Harper that Thad Reynolds wouldn’t go away as easy as Harper’s wife would.

“Michelle Reynolds was very careful what she said to Scott (Harper) to disown herself from any action he was going to take,” Patterson said. “Even Scott Harper’s statement was not as cut and dried as, ‘Let’s murder Thad Reynolds’.”

So five and a half years later, Michelle Reynolds and Scott Harper are headed to prison. The criminal court proceedings are done.

And Thad Reynolds’ mother, family and friends are still grappling with “why.”

Timelime of the Harper - Reynolds Case

July 5, 2004: Thad Reynolds found murdered at Frito Lay distribution center.

July 8, 2004: Richard Scott Harper and Michelle Sullins Reynolds arrested, charged with the murder of Thad Reynolds.

July 9, 2004: Both suspects denied bond.

October 2004: District Attorney Leigh Patterson files notice she will seek the death penalty for both defendants.

October 2005: With the creation of a statewide public defender system, who will pay for the defense of Harper and Reynolds is unclear, slowing trial process.

March 2006: Hundreds of motions filed in the case. Motion hearings begin.

August 2006: The case is halted for defense requested Georgia Supreme Court review.

October 2006: The Georgia Supreme Court declines to review the case, it is sent back to Floyd County.

May 2007: The lead investigator in the Harper-Reynolds case is fired from the Floyd County Police department.

July 2007: Defense attorneys appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court about whether the wrong person served on the grand jury that indicted Harper on murder charges.

October 2007: The Georgia Supreme Court hears appeal about evidence and indictment.

January 2008: The Georgia Supreme Court lets indictment stand, rules evidence from Harper’s desk inadmissible. Case goes back to Floyd County.

February 2008: Harper and Reynolds re-indicted under same charges.

April 2008: Harper and Reynolds plea not guilty under new indictment.

May 2008: Pre-trial motions concerning jury makeup heard. First indictment dropped.

October 2008: Harper pleads guilty to murder charges. Offers to testify in order to get death penalty dropped versus both defendants.

November 2008: Reynolds case sent to high court for final pre-trial review.

February 2009: The Georgia Supreme Court declines to review the case, it is sent back to Floyd County.

September 2009: Trial date for Reynolds is set for the end of January 2010.

January 2010: Reynolds pleads guilty, sentenced to 20 years; Harper sentenced to life without parole.


Pastor Admits Killing Church Deacon

October 1, 2008

ROME, Ga. — Former pastor Richard Scott Harper pleaded guilty to the 2004 killing of church deacon Thad John Reynolds Wednesday. Harper killed Thad Reynolds in a deadly love triangle, police said.

As part of the plea deal, Harper will testify against his former lover and Thad Reynolds' widow, Michelle Sullins Reynolds, and in return, the state will not seek the death penalty against her.

Officials said Harper's prerequisites in making the deal was that not only would he not face the death penalty, Michelle Reynolds wouldn't either. Harper is expected to receive life without the possibility of parole.

On July 5, 2004, Harper stabbed Thad Reynolds, a 36-year-old father of four, to death when he arrived at the northwest Georgia Frito-Lay distribution center where Reynolds was a district manager. Police said Reynolds was stabbed 19 times.

Michelle Sullins Reynolds IM Michelle Sullins Reynolds is accused of conspiring with her lover to have her husband killed. Thad Reynolds was stabbed to death in 2004. Michelle Sullins Reynolds is accused of conspiring with her lover to have her husband killed.

Both Harper and the Reynolds family attended Hollywood Baptist Church in Rome where Harper was an assistant pastor and Thad Reynolds was a deacon and marriage counselor.

Harper was the one who stabbed Thad Reynolds to death, police said, and Michelle Reynolds is accused of conspiring to kill Thad Reynolds. Police said an affair between Michelle Reynolds and Harper led to the attack.

"I think he feels very responsible for the death of Thad Reynolds. He feels very guilty about it, ashamed about it and I think he was relieved to be able to come to court and accept responsibility for it today," said defense attorney Christopher Adams.

"Of course I'd like to go forward with it but you have to work with the evidence you've got. And if I have the opportunity to shore my case up against another defendant, then I think I'm going to take it," said district attorney Leigh Patterson.


Manager found stabbed

By Matt Tuck and Bert Noble - Rome News-Tribune

July 6, 2004

With no suspects and no apparent motive in the early Monday murder of a Rome man, police are asking for the public’s help.

Thad John Glenn Reynolds, 36, of 69 W. Kenora Drive, was stabbed several times at a Frito-Lay distribution center, 2605 Calhoun Road, around 4 a.m., said Floyd County police Sgt. Dallas Battle.

Reynolds was Frito-Lay’s district manager for the Rome/Cartersville area.

Battle said robbery remains a remote possibility for the murder, although nothing was apparently missing from the scene or the victim.

“It could have been a robbery, but they didn’t keep any money (in the building)” he said. “(Reynolds’) wallet was there.”

The investigator said it is possible the killer thought there might be money inside the building.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene at 6:27 a.m. by Tony Cooper, chief deputy coroner, said Coroner Barry Henderson.

That morning, Reynolds was close to his car when he was attacked with a knife, said Battle.

“There was a scuffle outside and inside (Frito-Lay),” he said. “The weapon was not recovered, but it is believed to be a knife.”

The body was discovered around 6 a.m., when an unidentified Frito-Lay employee arrived at the distribution center.

“He went in, saw the victim on the floor and called 911,” Battle said.

A sheath to a hunting knife was found near the car, and a red mini-van was seen leaving the area around the time of the killing, Battle said.

“We’re looking for a red mini-van,” he said. “It’s the only lead we’ve got at this time.”

GBI and Floyd County investigators reported finding blood inside and outside the main entrance and near Reynolds’ car, which was parked close to the building, said Battle.

The body will be sent to the GBI crime lab in Summerville this morning for an autopsy, Battle said.

The victim’s car has since been taken to the Floyd County Police Department, where investigators are processing it for evidence.

“If they lift any prints, we’ll start there,” Battle said.

The center was used to load and unload Frito-Lay delivery trucks, said Battle.

The victim is survived by his his wife, Michelle, and four daughters, Olivia, 12, Lydia, 6, Emma, 4, and Jenna, 1.

“He liked to get to work early while his family was still asleep so he could be with them at home in the afternoons,” said Bill Fortenberry, who had been friends with Reynolds for the past eight years.

Reynolds was described as a “devoted family man,” said Mark Huckaby, an associate pastor at Hollywood Baptist Church, where Reynolds served as a deacon and marriage counselor. “His hobby was his family.”

Reynolds also served as an assistant chaplain at Redmond Regional Medical Center.

“If you ask anyone about him, the response will be that he was an absolutely devoted father, husband and Christian,” said Fortenberry.

Fortenberry was with Reynolds on Independence Day when their Sunday school class met at Ridge Ferry Park.

“We brought our families,” said Fortenberry. “It was a time to be together with friends and enjoy the holiday.”

Reynolds “had the gift of encouragement,” said Greg Polley, a friend who also attends Hollywood Baptist.

Police now ask for the public’s help in solving the crime.

“Anybody that saw anything from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. should call us,” Battle said. “Whether it seems important to them or not, they should call — anything that seemed out of the ordinary.”

Reynolds’ death is the fifth murder in Floyd County this year.



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