Amy Harpole and other family members visited her mother, Jane Stokes, for a fun weekend of sharing memories and cookouts. Stokes had prepared her home for her granddaughter to live with her in the coming weeks.
But less than two days after Harpole and others left Stokes' 707 Hardin Drive home in East Ridge, the 70-year-old woman had another visitor.
Randall Reed had worked for a few days building a fence at Stokes' home in April and May.
He knew that Stokes lived alone; he knew her schedule. She rose about 5 a.m. and left her home about 6:30 each morning for work at accounting firm Henderson, Hutcherson and McCullough.
A jury found Wednesday that Reed walked into Stokes' home on June 15, 2011, bound her hands behind her back with zip ties and then wrapped her head in cellophane, leaving her to die of suffocation.
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Her debit card and PIN.
Within hours of her death, ATM cameras captured photographs of Reed withdrawing money from Stokes' account.
He turned himself in after local media outlets ran the photographs.
On the second day of his two-day trial, Reed took the stand Wednesday and said he did not kill Stokes.
He said his drug dealer, Milo Geiger, called him and said he had a debit card. Reed claimed that he withdrew the money for Geiger in exchange for drugs.
But Geiger testified he'd never met Stokes and didn't know Reed. He'd offered to take a lie detector test when police interviewed him.
Hamilton County District Attorney Bill Cox and Executive Assistant District Attorney Neal Pinkston also presented evidence that showed DNA and makeup worn by Stokes on the shirt Reed wore. They displayed a 100-count bag of zip ties, the same type used to bind Stokes, with only 78 ties.
Investigators found 22 zip ties of the same type in a search of Stokes' home and others tied to Reed's bicycle.
Defense attorney Chrissy Mincy argued throughout the trial that East Ridge Detective Gwen Cribbs and others didn't follow up on other possible leads, including Geiger.
But it took jurors less than three hours to return a unanimous verdict of guilty on all counts, murder, theft and robbery.
Reed faces a life sentence.
Contact staff writer Todd South at or 423-757-6347 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 ...