Who is Rodney Reed?

Posted by mcorcoran on December 31, 2013

Rodney ReedAt first, Rodney Reed said he didn’t know the victim. “It wasn’t me.” But after being presented with DNA evidence that he’d had sex with the 19-year-old woman, he changed his story. It was consensual sex, he finally admitted, but because he’s black and she’s white, he had to keep it on the down low. Races ain’t ‘sposed to mix in small-town Texas, you see.

This was in Wichita Falls in 1987, not Bastrop ten years later, when Reed would follow the same m.o. after he was indicted and later convicted of the rape and murder of Stacey Stites.

You know that case, right? Nineteen year old doesn’t show up for her 3:30 a.m. shift at HEB on April 23, 1996. She’s found dead in a wooded area 12 hours later with her pants unzipped and her t-shirt off. Her fiancee, Giddings police officer, Jimmy Fennell fails two polygraphs and is the prime suspect until the DNA matches Rodney Reed almost a year later.

There’s a documentary about the case called “State vs. Reed” and the Austin Chronicle has written extensively about it, pushing the idea that Reed is innocent and the cop boyfriend killed her in a jealous rage when he found out that she and Reed were having an affair. Fennell bolstered the defense’s case, which is now at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans seeking a new trial, when he pled guilty in 2008 to improper sexual activity with a person in custody and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The lawyers for Reed, who sits on Death Row near Huntsville, have vowed to fight this to the end.

But this is no Michael Morton case. Texas Monthly or another major magazine hasn’t touched this national true crime story because, although there remains questions (see links below) about the death of Stacy Stites, Rodney Reed has been scarring lives since 1987.

When the Austin Chronicle put Rodney Reed on the cover of it’s May 24, 2002 issue (“Who Killed Stacey Stites?”), there was no mention of his history of alleged sexual assaults until about 4,000 words into a 5,000-word story. After proudly pointing out that Reed was aquitted of the only rape charge he faced in court, Chronicle crime reporter Jordan Smith wrote “Reed and his family say they can prove he did not commit the other assaults,” leaving it at that.

Maybe instead of asking “Who Killed Stacey Stites?” and serving as the mouthpiece of the defense, the weekly should’ve wondered “Why was Rodney Reed’s semen inside a badly-beaten 12-year-old girl?”

There is DNA evidence that while Reed was out on bail in the Wichita Falls case, he beat, raped and sodomized a 12-year-old Bastrop girl. The DNA testing from the Stites rape would tie him to that case, which never went to trial because Reed was sent to death row in 1998.

Reed bounced between Bastrop, where his mother lived, and his father’s home town of Wichita Falls, where he was accused of another vicious attack in 1991. The day after his girlfriend and mother of his two children Lucy E. ended their relationship, Reed broke in and raped and sodomized her in front of the kids, the woman said. But after contacting police and filing a report, she decided it wouldn’t be worth it to press charges.

Three more women came forward during the punishment phase of Reed’s  capital murder trial and described animalistic attacks from the man that they were terrified might one day walk out of prison. The sexual assault of May 1995 yielded the DNA profile that ended up convicting Reed in the Stites case, though, again, the victim was an ex-girlfriend who didn’t think anyone would believe her.

The other two assaults were more damning to Reed’s claims of innocence, as the first was six months before the Stites murder and the other was six months after. In both cases, the women were abducted from Bastrop’s Cedar Street, which is on Stites’ route from her apartment in Giddings to her job at HEB. The first rape, in October 1995, was a cold case until the DNA match was made 18 months later. The February ’97 attack was an attempted rape that could’ve followed the Stites scenario. Victim Linda Schlueter stopped in at Long’s Star Mart for something and there was Reed, asking for a ride, please. She hestitated because she didn’t know him, but Reed can be charming, convincing. He hopped in. But instead of guiding him to his house at 806 Martin Luther King Blvd., he had her turn into an abandoned lot where he demanded sex, then beat her up when she declined. She was lucky to get out of the car as a pair of headlights approached- and Reed slid over to the driver’s side and floored it.

One of the Reed defense team’s key points of appeal is that although 11 sworn witnesses were ready to testify that they had seen Reed and Stites kissing, holding hands, etc., only two were called at the trial. But Reed’s original court-appointed attorneys explained in an interview, after the jury deliberated four hours to find Reed guilty, that to call the other witnesses, all close friends or relatives of Reed, most with criminal histories, would open the door for prosecutors to call up previous victims of Reed. If they claim it was a consensual affair, we have witnesses who will describe forcible sexual encounters with Reed that are still causing nightmares. Another victim of the vicious murder of Stacey Stites was her brother, who committed suicide the next year.

Reed was known by authorities to roam the streets at night and sometimes walk along the railroad tracks. He also occasionally sold drugs, which led to his arrest for delivery of cocaine in April 1997. By sheer coincidence, the DNA match from Reed’s alleged rape in May ’95 to the Stites case had come back positive for Reed the day he turned himself in on the petty drug charge. Investigators asked if he knew Stacey Stites and Reed said only from the news reports. Never met her.

When they hit him with the irrefutable DNA evidence that his semen was found in Stites vaginal cavity, Reed went back to Wichita Falls in ’87. When he went to trial on that rape charge, the jury believed his “secret affair” story and he was aquitted.

Stacey Stites.

Stacey Stites.

Although Jimmy Fennell is the poster boy for “shadow of a doubt,” Reed’s entire case is built on the claim that he had consensual sex with Stacey Stites more than 24 hours before her body was found. To believe his story, she carried his semen home to her racist cop boyfriend that night, didn’t shower the next day and then went to work. And yet the defense has presented zero credible proof that Reed and Stites had even met. A bunch of friends and relatives who’ve had problems with the law pointing a finger at a cop? That’s not going to do it. Where are the notes, the photos, the stray hair, the little gifts that may have Stites’ fingerprints?

A key witness for the prosecution was Stacey’s mother Carol, who lived downstairs from the Giddings apartment Fennell and Stites lived in. The night before Stacey’s rape/murder, Carol suggested to Jimmy that he let Stacey take his truck to work, then she’d give him her car the next day. Having one vehicle was an ongoing problem with the young couple. Carol Stites testified that at about 3 a.m. she heard the couple’s door open once and heard one set of footsteps go down the stairs, which was the routine when Stacey had to work. At 6:30 a.m., when she was notified that Stacey was missing, she immediately called Jimmy and he was obviously asleep, but he got up and ran down the stairs, getting dressed the whole way. He went to Carol’s apartment and Carol gave him her only set of car keys so he could drive out to look for Stacey. There was only ONE set of keys to the car and she had it overnight. Jimmy didn’t have another vehicle. The only way he could’ve killed his fiancée was if her mother had been complicit.

After the murder of their employee, HEB offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer and yet no one thought to drop a dime on Rodney the crack dealer, who they seen with that white girl.

If anyone accused of a rape-murder can explain away their semen by claiming an illicit affair, as unlikely as the couple might seem, that would really clog the appeals courts.

But you figure that first they’d throw out all the cases where the convicted have shown a pattern for the behavior they are accused of doing.
Texas Monthly has not done the 12,000-word story about the Rodney Reed case because Michael Morton was not an accused sexual predator with the DNA evidence to back it up, before he was sent to Death Row.

* * *

Reed returned to a Bastrop court Tuesday Nov. 25 to ask for additional DNA testing, which was denied.

Reed returned to a Bastrop court Tuesday Nov. 25 to ask for additional DNA testing, which was denied.

UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday Nov. 3 to review Reed’s case. The decision lets stand a January ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which determined that Reed’s lawyers performed adequately during his trial and his claims of innocence lacked validity. He’s was  scheduled for execution Jan. 14, but on Nov. 25 that date was moved to March 5.

Here’s the latest on the case from the Austin Chronicle.

And to read more, this site covers a lot of the more conspiratorial aspects of the case, including the beer can with the DNA that doesn’t exclude a fellow Giddings police officer.

Reed rape victim speaks out.

UDATE: Appeal denied 4/12/17.

35 Responses to “Who is Rodney Reed?”

  1. Redd said

    “Reed cannot show prejudice because, at trial, Reed had access to the same DNA evidence and his DNA expert initially reached the same conclusion before conducting more refined Polymarker testing, which excluded Stites and the two police officers.” [Slip Opn. No. 13-70009, p. 41]

    The original dna testing could not exclude Stites and two police officers. However, additional more refined dna testing conducted by Reed’s own expert, excluded all three. Yet, the thug lovers go on and on about the stupid beer cans which were found across the road from where the body was found.

  2. Ohana said

    MCorcoran – I would be very interested to know where you received your information regarding the Rodney Reed case. I would like to explore some of your allegations/statements and would like to know where I may go to verify the information you wrote about. Particularly,

    “The other two assaults were more damning to Reed’s claims of innocence, as the first was six months before the Stites murder and the other was six months after. In both cases, the women were abducted from Bastrop’s Cedar Street, which is on Stites’ route from her apartment in Giddings to her job at HEB. The first rape, in October 1995, was a cold case until the DNA match was made 18 months later. The February ’97 attack was an attempted rape that could’ve followed the Stites scenario. Victim Linda Schlueter stopped in at Long’s Star Mart for something and there was Reed, asking for a ride, please. She hestitated because she didn’t know him, but Reed can be charming, convincing. He hopped in. But instead of guiding him to his house at 806 Martin Luther King Blvd. he had her turn into an abandoned lot where he demanded sex, then beat her up when she declined. She was lucky to get out of the car as a pair of headlights approached- and Reed slid over to the driver’s side and floored it.” and “There is DNA evidence that while Reed was out on bail in the Wichita Falls case, he beat, raped and sodomized a 12-year-old Bastrop girl. The DNA testing from the Stites rape would tie him to that case, which never went to trial because Reed was sent to death row in 1998.” I appreciate any information you can provide.

    • mcorcoran said

      I spent two days at the Bastrop County clerk’s office going through trial transcripts. The information about the alleged past sexual assaults comes from the penalty phase of the trial, after Reed was found guilty, but before the sentence.

  3. Mr. Corcoran,

    While you may have read some of the trial transcripts, you did not have access to the internal documents and investigators reports that I got before the State sealed the files.

    When you use the 2 sexual assaults attributed to Reed to condemn him, you clearly did not do any research to determine if they were true, which I did.

    First, the 12-year-old raped in 1987 was not dating Reed’s cousin who was 24 yrs. old in 87. Second, the Reed in Bastrop when the assault occurred was Rodney’s younger brother Ryan. Ryan Reed moved to Bastrop in late summer of 87 to complete his last year of high school. Third, Rodney’s attorney in Wichita Falls told me he was only allowed to to go to Bastrop for one day to attend his granfather’s funeral and that was in the spring of 1987. Lastly, there was no DNA evidence in the 12-yr-olds case.

    If you read the transcript of the punishment phase of Reed’s trial you will see the detective who investigated the 12-yr-olds assault stated he had enough evidence to charge the perpetrator at the time, but didn’t. Furthermore, the neighbor of the 12-yr-old at the time of the assault stated the victim told her the rapist said her he was going to rape again, because she went to the police. Two weeks later she was rapped again by the same guy. The rapist was the cousin of the girl’s boy friend and had the same last name of Reed’s cousin, which was “Moore”.

    The reason I know this is because I took time and went through the trouble of talking to the neighbor and obtained a 1987 Bastrop High School yearbook showing it was Ryan Reed not Rodney Reed. The yearbook also has a picture of the boy named Moore who was the boyfriend of the 12-yr-old and Moore’s cousin had been arrested for kidnapping and raping another girl.

    Next the woman raped on the railroad tracks had a witness who identified that rapist, but the detective said they only wanted Rodney. The actual rapist’s name is in the detective’s reports.

    Lastly, victim Linda Schlueter was a dance in Austin, oh wait, wasn’t it dancers that Fennell was stalking and trying to assault in Williamson CO., and by the way, there were several that filed police reports before Fennell was arrested and charged. District attorney John Bradley hid this from the press.

    now if you saw the pictures of Linda Schlueter and saw her 1″ long fingernail, you would know that Reed’s DNA would be under them, if he tried to assault her, but it wasn’t.

    Lastly, during my research I requested the DPS provide all chain-of-custody and proof of shipment, of all DNA evidence sent from the DPS to Reed’s DNA expert in California. After I received the shipping documents, I requested verification from the shipper, who refuted all the shipping documents. They stated they have no records of picking up, or delivering the alleged evidence and the shipping packets provided by the DPS were document envelopes. They said it would be a violation of federal law to ship DNA in those envelopes, but they know it didn’t happen as the evidence wouldn’t have fitted and they have no records to support the DPS contentions.

    In closing, you are correct on one point, Reed is no Michael Morton, he is an Anthony Graves.

    Anthony Graves had the same prosecuting judge, the same court appointed defense attorneys, the same Travis CO Medical Examiner and the same judges daughter presiding over their appeals.

    If you’re really interested in the truth about the Reed case, you have my email, so drop me a message and lets talk.

    • mcorcoran said

      I won’t go point by point, but why do you say there was no DNA evidence linking Rodney Reed to the 1989 rape of the 12-year-old? He also was a match for the bite marks on the child’s face that were go grotesque that a juror had to run to the bathroom to throw up. In the Linda S. case, he punched her and threw her to the ground by her hair, then kicked her. She didn’t have the chance to scratch him.

    • Ohana said

      Thank you David for answering my question more in depth. I believe wholeheartedly that Mr. Reed is innocent. I questioned the previous allegations to see where the information was gathered. I question stating things as “fact” when they were spoken by the DA’s office. I am by no way an expert on this case however, what information I have received speaks of a terrible injustice. Thank you David for your response. I know Rodney appreciates your support.

      • Redd said

        Corcoran cited evidence from the trial, i.e., testimony by witnesses given under oath and subject to cross examination. Fisher posted some sort of bizarre rant which is not evidence. I’m sure the distinction will escape you. Hopefully, the USSC will deny his petition before the end of the term and TX will set a date. Otherwise, it will be early next year.

        • Anon said

          It seems to me that Mr. Fisher did a far better work at investigating this case than Mr. Corcoran. But someone who is so convinced that Mr. Reed is guilty would be unable to see the truth even if it hit them in the face. One only needs to objectively look at the case facts to see that there’s way too much doubt in this case and that there is a likely innocent man on Texas death row.

          • Redd said

            It seems to everyone, you are the one unable to see the truth even if it hit you in the face. Fisher is a fabulist as are you.

    • Lisa O'Brien said

      Mr. Fisher,

      There are a few problems with your attempt to refute the information provided in Mr. Corcoran’s article. Much of what you posted, though you attribute it to your “research,” is nothing more than conclusory allegations, some of which have never been raised by Reed’s counsel in his many post-conviction challenges.

      In evaluating Reed’s claims of actual innocence, the courts will only look at the testimony and evidence before the trial court. Therefore, the information that may or not be contained in the investigative files is of little, if any value. If the information was never presented at trial, or at previous hearings, it isn’t in the record and, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist. This is especially true when the reports, etc. are not readily available online for others to read and interpret for themselves. While the majority of people on the internet will read the clams and believe them, there are those who would prefer to read the original documents and decide what they mean for themselves.

      Reed was actually linked to five sexual assaults (Connie Y., 12 year old, Lucy E., Vivian H., Angela W.) and one attempted sexual assault (Linda S.) after Stacy’s murder. Five of those victims testified against him during the penalty phase of his murder trial in 1998. Reed’s defense attorneys did not present any witnesses to refute the testimony of these witnesses, or the allegations against Reed.

      The majority of your conclusory allegations are meaningless in the absence of documented proof that corroborates them. Many of them don’t even make sense or are irrelevant or immaterial to the question of Reed’s guilt in the prior rapes and/or his guilt for Stacy Stites’ rape and murder.

      If you check the criminal court records in Bastrop County, which has dockets available online, you will see that Reed has been indicted in those prior and subsequent cases, making the often repeated claim that he’s never been charged false.

      Are you implying that Fennell attacked Linda S.? If I recall correctly, Linda identified Reed and pick him out of a line-up. Did you miss that during your review of the police and investigative reports. Since Reed was prosecuted in Bastrop County and convicted long before Fennell’s crimes, what the DA in Williamson County did or didn’t do is irrelevant.

      The presence or absence of long fingernails has no bearing on the presence or absence of DNA evidence. If the victim does not get an opportunity to scratch an attacker, there will be no DNA evidence from the attacker under the victim’s fingernails. Fingernails are not magnets that attract DNA.

      During your “research” did you bother to read Ms. Johnson’s trial testimony and reports, or to speak with her regarding how and when she received evidence? What the shipping company may or may not have told you about the documents you received from DPS is hearsay and not a legitimate substitute for Ms. Johnson’s prior testimony confirming that she received evidence, or her current recollection regarding her receipt of evidence.

      Your claim that Reed and Graves were tried by the same prosecutor is false. In fact, Reed and Graves were tried and convicted in separate counties. Reed’s prosecutors were Penick, Sanderson and Tanner. Graves’ prosecutor was Charles Sebesta.

    • Lisa O'Brien said

      Dear Mr. Fischer,

      Please stop harassing Reed’s living victims. Publicly defaming and harassing them only demonstrates Reed’s continued propensity to victimize women, even if it’s through trolls and minions.

  4. Vivian harbottle Chapman said

    Fisher, get a life

  5. Dan said

    While a strong OPPONENT of the death penalty, I have to agree after looking over Rodney Reeds appeals along with what was brought up during his trial, that he is guilty. The author stated actual facts that were from the trial.

  6. Redd said

    For the record, Stites was a nail biter. Her nails were not cut. Reed’s supporters try to claim that someone cut her nails to hide evidence.

  7. Dan said

    He’s guilty. I’m not for the death penalty, but this article shows just how much evidence goes on during the trial, that is never discussed from the prosecutor’s side(they usually can’t discuss ongoing cases), while the only people who can continue trying to use false claims and manipulative tactics to distort the REAL TRUTH is the defense(in this case, Rodney’s team, friends,etc..)
    The reason I am against the death penalty, is because it does no one justice. There have been examples(Anthony Graves who did have an execution date, yet thankfully got I believe a couple of delays, where he was eventually found innocent). This shows how even one case is a reason never ever to use death as the ultimate punishment

  8. Dan said

    It’s also another reasons, anti-death penalty organizations such as the INNOCENCE PROJECT, has not taken up this case(example, hiring law firms pro bono..)BECAUSE he is obviously guilty

    • Anon said

      Actually Dan, Reed’s attorney is Bryce Benjet of the Innocence Project.

      Also, Innocence Project is not an anti death penalty organization. IP is a non profit legal clinic working to help the wrongfully convicted. They do however support a death penalty moratorium while reasons for wrongful convictions are remedied (and would also support a repeal should that be the only option to stop executions while those wrongful conviction causes are remedied).

      On another note: there are many wrongfully convicted people who aren’t represented by IP – that doesn’t mean they’re “obviously guilty”. Given the fact that you’re familiar with the existence of an organization such as IP, one would also expect that you’d know just how overwhelmed they are with requests for help. In some cases, it can take up to a year for such an organization to even respond (!) to an inmate that requested help, let alone take on his case. Perhaps you should consider a financial donation to IP (or any other organization which is part of the Innocence Network) so more people would be able to receive assistance from them.

      As for the Rodney Reed case, I’ll say this: if the state has absolutely nothing to fear (and hide), why not test the DNA? For example, Ms Stites was strangled with a belt – what are the chances the perpetrators DNA is on there? I’d say pretty good. Yet the state refuses to test it. Why? It doesn’t make sense, but then again, it’s Texas where executing the innocent (and let’s not forget the mentally ill) is perfectly normal.

      • Redd said

        The belt was handled by numerous people, i.e., all the attys, court personel, wits, and the jury. So, to say it is contaminated is an understatement. Since Fennel and Stacy lived together, it would not be a surprise if his dna was found on it. If they find Reed’s dna on it, he’s going to repeat his lie that they had consensual sex previously and must have touched the belt. The state has no interest in delaying the execution to test evidence that holds no forensic value nor shd they.

        IP is definitely an antidp group. Who do you think you are fooling? They couldn’t be bothered to file a timely request for additional dna testing or to file a written motion with the state as required. So, I suspect this was all just for show for the nutters who will believe anything.

  9. Bastropian said

    Thank you for your article! Rodney is guilty and deserves to pay for what he did. I CANNOT believe people are ignoring the facts and rallying for his release. This animal has not done any good in his life; he’s only hurt people. Stacey was excited to be getting married–she was NOT having an affair with Rodney Reed. I was raised in Bastrop. I knew Stacey and I saw Rodney around town all the time who was always up to no good.

    Ed Salmela’s suicide had nothing at all to do with the case. He was having relationship problems and was rejected by his lover and that’s what pushed him over the edge.

    Most people claiming Reed’s innocence know NOTHING about this case! I understand a lot of people want to see the good in people and believe in the positive, but Reed is guilty.

    PS- to the people supporting Reed: don’t you know that everyone in prison is innocent? They will all yell it from the rooftops. Stop believing everything you hear and look at the facts. Semen and tears on a murdered victim’s anus are pretty damning when tests come back with their DNA!

  10. Laurie Gaston said

    Is it mentioned that the boyfriend went to prison shortly after for rap?

  11. Lisa O'Brien said

    The absence of Reed’s DNA on the belt will not exonerate him. The presence of someone else’s DNA on the belt will not exonerate Reed. Reed was convicted based on his DNA being found in and on Stacey Stite’s body. Reed has consistently failed to prove any relationship with Stites and, in fact, denied knowing her when he was initially questioned by police in 1997, a year after the murders.

    As for Stacye’s fiancee, he went to prison 11 years after the murder in 1996. If he was the “real killer” why wouldn’t he have pointed police directly to Reed in 1996?

    The truck Stacey was driving the night of the murder was abandoned in Bastrop, 35 miles from Giddings. There is no evidence that Fennel, or any of his Giddings co-workers made the 70 miles roundtrip on the night of April 23. The location in which the truck was abandoned was within a mile of Reed’s home, in an area that Reed was known to walk on a nightly basis.

    The fact is that Reed raped and murdered Stacey Stites on April 23, 1996. She was not killed by a jealous fiancee because of a relationship that didn’t exist.

  12. Crystal said

    I would hope that no other woman has to go thru what these women have. I worked with Stacy’s half sister years ago and learned about the case then. it seems to me that these Rodney supporters are easily tricked. The truth is in front of you and you still try to skirt around it. If your so sure of his innocence please find him a home in your neighborhood if you succeed in getting him out. I pray you never succeed because he has a history of repeating his crimes and claiming he was in a relationship with the girl. from what I know of Stacy is that she was a country girl, she wore chukkas daily, and was very careful about her lifestyle. Why would a woman like that have anything to do with a man who dealt drugs and was a regular thug? Not saying it has anything to do with race, had Rodney been a black cowboy I would have bought his story. They had nothing in common. The man who wrote the Artie is so right in the fact that Stacy would have had to not showered or even walked.

  13. Great article! I have read the court of appeals response to Reed’s appeal and it is obvious he is guilty. His defenders are grasping at straws. Everytime I see someone try to use polygraph “results” as “evidence,” I crack up laughing. Polygraphs are noting but voodoo machines and its the operator who decides what the results mean. I’ve seen an operator claim a subject was “deceptive” when every word he said was true. Polygraphs were debunked years ago. So what that the fiancé confessed to “raping” a drunk woman 11 years later? He’s been drug through the mud by Reed’s hacks. As for Fisher, gimme a break! His latest project is going after the Waller County jail over Sandra Bland. He’s another wannabe nothing.

  14. vivian harbottle said

    Thank you Sam,

  15. J.J said

    Having just watched the show DEAD AGAIN, i am more convinced than ever, that reed is innocent.. This is nothing more than a cover up, from a corrupt police force and justice system.. fennel is a bad seed, a jealous man who took the life of his partner, and sent an innocent man to death row.. with all the new evidence, one has to wonder whether the judge that denied the DNA testing appeal, isn’t in on it as well.. karma is a wonderful thing, lets hope the REAL GUILTY parties, get a big dose of it, in the not to distant future..

  16. Lisa O'Brien said

    Tonight, the American Idiots podcast on Blog Talk Radio will be discussing the Rodney Reed case. Please join us.


  17. Gregory C said

    Reed should have been executed years ago. Reed parked the Trucks a few blocks from where he lived he walked the tracks back to his house like he did every night.

  18. Lisa O'Brien said

    Reed’s two remaining writs (WR-08 and WR-09) have been denied and/or dismissed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. No comment, yet, from Benjet or the Reed family.


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