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Jack Wayne REEVES

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: 1967 / 1978 / 1994
Date of birth: 1940
Victims profile: An Italian man / His second wife, Sharon Vaughn / His fourth wife, Emelita Villa (In addition, he remains a suspect in the 1986 drowning death of his third wife, Myong Reeves)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Italy / Texas, USA
Status: Manslaughter conviction in 1967 (released after four months.) Sentenced to 35 years on one count, 1995. Sentenced to 99 years with 40-year minimum on January 3, 1996
 
 
 
 
 
 

Jack Wayne Reeves was born in Wichita Falls, where he reached adolescence in the 1950s, an Elvis Presley devotee with a modeled pompadour and ducktail. There, in 1960, he married his first wife, a 15-year-old, but that marriage was annulled because of the bride's age.

Less than a year later, at 21, he married Sharon Vaughn and enlisted in the Army shortly afterward.

He was stationed in Italy and the couple had two sons there. Then, in 1967, Reeves had his first brush with homicide when he shot an Italian man he said was spying on him and Sharon. Reeves said he fired a pistol to frighten the man away, but the bullet ricocheted off an iron railing and struck the man in the chest.

He was imprisoned for six months, during which time his mother circulated a petition among Wichita Falls residents, obtained hundreds of signatures and forwarded it to then-President Johnson, who interceded to have him released.

The couple returned to the United States and moved into a small home in Copperas Cove. Reeves continued his military career, was promoted to sergeant and was often stationed overseas while his wife remained in Copperas Cove.

He was serving in Korea in early 1978 when he was served with divorce papers. He returned immediately to reconcile his marriage and had apparently done so by July 20, when the couple filed a request to set aside their divorce.

That night, Copperas Cove police were called to the home. They found Sharon Reeves in bed, nude, shot through the chest with a shotgun. Reeves and his 10-year-old son, Randy, were standing near the body.

Reeves told police he and his wife had gone out to dinner, returned home, wrote and signed a will, then had sex. He said he had just walked out of the room when his wife shot herself.

A suicide note was found on a china cabinet. Police read the script that said Sharon Reeves was torn between staying with her husband and leaving him for another man, and they wondered at the obscene drawing that had been added to the note.

Reeves was questioned further. Police said he chatted nonchalantly about his wife and spiced the conversation with accounts of his sexual exploits with Korean women. The officers thought his actions were peculiar, but little more investigation was done and the death was ruled a suicide.

Reeves returned to Korea after the funeral and married a young Korean woman named Myong Chong in that country. He returned to the United States with her in the early 1980s and they later moved to a small brick home on Iberis Street in a new subdivision in south Arlington.

Reeves seemed affluent. His brick home was small, but his toys were numerous. He bought cars, a classic Harley-Davidson motorcycle, boats, travel trailers and expensive pickups. Sources close to the investigation say approximately $100,000 came from military benefits from the Army, resulting from Sharon Reeves' death. More of it, however -- approximately $300,000 -- came from his father, but not willingly.

Reeves' parents had long been divorced by the early 1980s, when Reeves reportedly took the money in cash for safekeeping during a period in which his father was embroiled in a subsequent divorce. Later, said those close to the family, he refused to return it, leaving the father in a home for disabled veterans in Bonham.

In keeping with his character, Reeves used the money to buy the best. He enjoyed camping and had one travel-trailer custom-built to his specifications. He often towed it to Lake Whitney, near Waco, and it was on one of those outings that Myong died in 1986.

Once again police thought Reeves' demeanor strange. He was calm when he told them his wife had fallen from a rubber raft and drowned while he was catching grasshoppers for fishing bait. No autopsy was performed. The death was ruled accidental, and Reeves had Myong's body cremated.

The cremation raised disapproval and suspicion among Myong's family, who remembered her as a slight woman who could not swim, was afraid of water and had always refused to get in a boat.

Her death also came shortly after she had written a letter to relatives, indicating she was about to leave Reeves because he was abusive.

Within a year Reeves had a new wife, Emelita Villa, a young Filipino woman he had met through a catalogue for mail-order brides. To his neighbors he seemed protective of her, once getting in a violent altercation with a neighbor he thought had said something derogatory about his new bride.

That attitude changed, however, and in 1991, when Emelita was pregnant, he sent her back to the Philippines, telling friends the child was not his.

And, shortly after Emelita had left, Reeves moved the young Russian woman into his home.

Reeves introduced the woman to several people and called her "Natalie." He reportedly said he had met her through a newspaper advertisement, offering Russian women who were seeking American husbands, and he bragged on his sexual prowess with her.

She was often seen walking through the south Arlington neighborhood where Reeves lived. A tall, slim, honey-blond woman, she rarely spoke. When she did, however, neighbors remembered her strong accent and perfect English and came away with the impression that she was well-educated.

Then, she was gone.

"I remember her all right," said Larry Conston, a next-door neighbor who often shared a beer with Reeves. "She was a nice-looking woman, and you'd notice her.

"When she was gone, Jack said she'd gone off to marry some other man. He said she'd had other boyfriends all along, and he didn't mind. ... He said she'd married one of them and moved off to Washington."

Emelita Reeves returned in 1992. Reeves apparently had been convinced by the baby's appearance that the little boy was his. Emelita was not happy with the marriage, however, and told friends she was considering leaving Reeves.

In early October 1994, Reeves said she had gone. He told neighbors she was a bisexual who had simultaneous affairs with men and women and had left with a group of bisexual women. When her Filipino friends reported her missing, police approached the house and found Reeves in the garage, not glad to see them and seemingly unconcerned with his wife's departure.

That interested Detective Buddy Evans, who was in charge of missing persons. Evans contacted LeNoir in homicide. The two spoke to Emelita's friends, who told them they believed Reeves had killed Emelita and that Emelita had said her husband had other wives who had died.

"That's when we started looking at the Sharon Reeves case," said LeNoir.

"We did a background and got suspicious. I mean, three wives, two dead and one missing?

"I talked to Jack Reeves. He seemed open, intelligent. He's authoritative. He seemed to know what he was talking about, and he talked about everything -- the Army, his wives, his trucks. Just as long as he was in control of the conversation, he kept talking.

"Then, as soon as I questioned him, as soon as I showed the slightest doubt about what he was telling me, he shut it down.

"It just made us more suspicious, and the more we investigated, the more suspicious it appeared. All of these women died just as they were about to leave Jack Reeves."

Police eventually had Sharon Reeves' body exhumed. The top-of-the-line casket had kept moisture from the corpse and it was well-preserved. A forensic expert examined the wound and determined that it was inconsistent with suicide. Reeves was charged with murder in May 1995.

In October, almost exactly a year after Emelita Reeves' disappearance, a hunter found her partially unearthed body in a shallow grave in a creekbed near Lake Whitney --where Myong Reeves had drowned.

Reeves was charged in that case and faces trial in Meridian on April 1. He drew 35 years for the murder of Sharon Reeves and could be eligible for parole on that sentence in seven years.

"We never thought it would get this far when we started," said LeNoir. "We never thought we'd see a conviction on a 17-year-old case.

"But we're not finished. We'd like to know where this other woman is."

Police suspicions have been fueled by other statements Reeves made after the departure of "Natalie."

"He said she'd been going up to the Hypermart to meet her lover,"said a neighbor who asked not to be identified. "That's the same thing he said about Emelita after she disappeared."

LeNoir said he and Evans are continuing to search for the woman, although neither Reeves nor his attorney, Wes Ball, have given them a full name or address for her.

"We told Mr. Ball we'd accept an affidavit from him, stating that she is known to him to be alive and well, but he hasn't been able to give us that," said LeNoir.

Reeves, 55, was convicted Jan. 3, 1996 in the 1978 murder of Sharon Reeves, his second wife, and faces another murder trial in the 1994 slaying of Emelita Reeves, his fourth spouse. In addition, he remains a suspect in the 1986 drowning death of his third wife, Myong Reeves, though lack of evidence in that case may preclude a trial.

And, most recently, police have turned their attentions to a woman known only as "Natalie," thought to be a Russian immigrant Reeves said he had met through a newspaper ad. She is known to have lived with Reeves for several weeks in 1991 before she seemingly disappeared.

Reeves, once vocal in proclaiming his innocence of any murder and outspoken about the intimate details of his marriages, apparently has little to say about "Natalie,"piquing the interest of Arlington police detectives Tom LeNoir and Buddy Evans.

"We'd like to know where she is and if she's alive," said LeNoir.

"And Mr. Reeves apparently doesn't want to tell us."

 
 

Man Is Convicted, Again, of Killing a Wife

The New York Times

August 20, 1996

A retired Army master sergeant who last winter was convicted of killing his wife 18 years ago was today found guilty of murdering another wife, this one a mail-order bride from the Philippines who disappeared in 1994.

The man, Jack Wayne Reeves, 56, of Arlington, Tex., came under suspicion after a worried friend reported the mail-order bride, Emelita, missing and the police learned that two previous wives had died in violent or accidental circumstances.

In the most recent trial in the slaying of Emelita Reeves, Mr. Reeves's fourth wife, prosecutors introduced evidence that the defendant began searching for a new mail-order bride within weeks of Emelita Reeves's disappearance.

A jury in this small town 90 miles southwest of Dallas took slightly more than 82 minutes today to convict Mr. Reeves of the most recent murder, and another 86 minutes to sentence him to 99 years in prison.

''I didn't do it, your honor,'' Mr. Reeves said after the verdict.

Mr. Reeves had been sentenced in January to serve 35 years in prison, after the authorities reopened the 1978 shotgun slaying of his second wife, Sharon, who died in Coryell County, where Mr. Reeves served at Fort Hood. Sharon Reeves's death was originally ruled a suicide.

The body of his third wife, Myong, from South Korea, was cremated after she drowned in Lake Whitney, near where the remains of Emelita Reeves were found in October.

Hill County authorities said that they had no plans to reopen the investigation of Myong Reeves's death.

The authorities never determined the exact cause of Emelita Reeves's death because so little of her remains were found.

Emelita Reeves was reported missing on Oct. 12, 1994. An Arlington police officer who went to the Reeves home late that night testified that Mr. Reeves would not allow him inside and that he became angry when asked about his wife's whereabouts.

One of Mr. Reeves's sons from his second marriage -- who was in the yard outside when his mother was shot in her bed in 1978 -- testified for the prosecution, saying he saw Mr. Reeves camping at Lake Whitney on Oct. 13.

Even before the body was found, Arlington police testified, Mr. Reeves brought up Lake Whitney when questioned about his wife.

''I heard him say, 'If Emelita is found or if her body is found in Lake Whitney, am I going to be blamed?,' '' Tom Lenoir, an Arlington police detective, testified.

The Arlington police did not search the Reeves home until more than a year after the woman vanished.

At the trial, District Attorney Andy McMullen acknowledged to the jury that his case was a circumstantial one. But, Mr. McMullen said, ''All the evidence taken together points to one man -- only one man.''

Emelita Reeves had told friends that she was planning to leave Mr. Reeves and that he had attacked her on the day before her disappearance, Mr. McMullen said.

Mr. Reeves's second wife was shot days after winning a divorce, said Sandy Gately, the Coryell County District Attorney. Mr. Reeves got the divorce overturned the day after his wife died when she did not show up in court. A justice of the peace, without an autopsy, later ruled the shooting a suicide, Mrs. Gately said. The 34-year-old woman's body was exhumed after Emelita Reeves disappeared.

There were no witnesses other than Mr. Reeves to the 1986 drowning of Myong Reeves, 26, said Dan V. Dent, the Hill County District Attorney.

Emelita Reeves was 18 when she married Mr. Reeves. Their son, who was then 3 years old, was with his father at Lake Whitney shortly after Emelita Reeves disappeared. The child now lives with Mr. Reeves's half sister.

Mr. Reeves's first marriage was annulled, the authorities said. His first wife lives in another state, said Ben Stool, assistant district attorney for Bosque County, where Meridian is located.

Mr. Reeves is appealing his first conviction in Sharon Reeves's killing. His lawyer, Wes Ball, said today that his client would appeal his conviction in the death of Emelita Reeves, too.

Mr. Reeves did not kill any of his wives, Mr. Ball said. ''Each one's a different situation: Sharon Reeves's death was a suicide. The drowning of Myong in 1986 was ruled an accidental drowning by the justice of the peace after they investigated that matter.''

As for Emelita Reeves, Mr. Ball said, ''There's no witness that says he killed her. There's no confession that says he killed her. There's no scientific evidence that says he killed her.''

 
 

SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE: PC-domestic

MO: Shot male victim in Italy; "Bluebeard" slayer of wives in U.S.

DISPOSITION: 1967 manslaughter conviction (released after four months.); 35 years on one count, 1995; 99 years with 40-year minimum, 1996.

 
 


Looking through the case file, police found an 8X10 photo of Sharon's body and a report saying she'd pulled the trigger of a shotgun with her toe, which had sustained a cut as a result. But the photo appeared staged, and authorities exhumed Sharon Reeves' body. Medical Examiner Dr. Jefferey Bernard found it to be very well-preserved, the result of Reeves having paid for an airtight coffin.

 

Photo shows a female police officer, who was physically unable to trigger the rifle with her toe.

 

Emilita Reeves' skeletal remains were later found. Jack Reeves was found guilty of two murders, and sentenced to 134 years in prison.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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