Crime, Epic Adventures, Mystery

The Wolf

There are things I remember vividly about her. How she would occasionally tug the creases of her thin lips into an awkward smile. The sway of black hair when the October sun made it look auburn, as if it had been dipped in warm honey.

Her voice was soft and tender but she was fiercely opinionated. When my mom meet Jane, the woman was sitting in a church pew with her fingers interlaced across her lap. They shook hands as a round of introductions were made. Meanwhile, I fidgeted impatiently at my mom’s side, attempting to ignore the ache in my stomach with anticipation of our afternoon potluck.

Her husband was a pilot. A handsome man with a charming demeanor and ice blue eyes. Yet when he opened his mouth, his jokes fell flat. People around us forced a laughed to make the silence more tolerable but the words lingered out of place… even though the suit and tie fit right in with the rest of us. Phone numbers were exchanged along with an invitation to our house for dinner. My mom was queen bee of making newcomers feel welcome.

When I look back with an adult perspective, I can see things I failed to notice as a teenager. An inferno boiling below the surface. A valuable lesson in choosing who to trust with expert precision.

As the seasons changed, my mom and Jane struck up a casual friendship. Jane began writing a healthy eating column for the church bulletin and since my mom loved to cook, the two of them swapped recipes. She was invited to walk the neighborhood with us when my mom became determined to lose weight. I listened intently to the conversations between adults and watched as Jane pulled a gray cardigan taut when frost descended once more.

I would hear my mom correct her over Bible verse interpretations. She would twist the words to fit an internal narrative as she held those around her to a higher standard than she held herself. After catching a church member in the act of something she deemed unhealthy, Jane would go out of her way to bring it to light for all to see by writing about it in the church column. Jane became obsessive. Yet on more than one occasion members would be invited to join her at a seedy bar in town.

Jane’s husband and my step-father struck up conversations of their own. In no time the two of them were standing over a grill, a cold beer in one hand and a plate of steak to bring to the table secured in the other. Yet as steaming bowls of potatoes and vegetarian options were passed to our friends meal after meal, the air between the adults had grown cold and distant. Tension hung like a guillotine.

When a good person does something terrible, it eats away at them. Nights become exhausting as sleep is lost. An attempt is made at justifying their actions but they live in a prison of hell. Self-sabotage is a pleasure they seek to lighten the burden of guilt that weighs heavy on their hearts. Yet truly evil people… feel absolutely nothing.

Which one was she? As I think back to sitting next to Jane at the dinner table, passing a plate of snapped peas from my hand to hers… I can’t help wondering if she thought about what she had done. When someone smiled at her over a glass of deep red sparkling grape juice, did she flash back to all the blood she had to clean up in that tiny trailer in Alaska?

When the pastor held communion and said “Eat this bread as a symbol of my body” did Jane Reth think back to the moment when a firearm weighed heavy in her hand and she decided to pull the trigger? When she wrote the column for church members, did it conjure up a memory of the card she sent to his mother the first mother’s day after his death? Did she criticize others because she was riddled with guilt or did she do such things because she felt nothing at all?

Jane Reth is a murderer.” My step-father announced to my mom.

She waved a hand in front of her face and laughed it off. Jane hardly weighed one hundred pounds. She was pretty in an understated sort-of way. While she was at times, a little strange and off-putting… she devoted a huge portion of her time to the service of others.

Why would you even think such a thing?” My mom questioned.

Because her husband told me she killed her first husband.” He said quietly.

Maybe he was joking? Maybe he was so terrible, she joked about killing him?” My mom suggested.

Maybe… but I kind-of believe him.” He stated tentatively.

A heated discussion over religion brewed between my parents. One claiming to be agnostic and the other, deeply rooted in faith. Neither refusing to give an inch while causing both of them to feel unbalanced. My step-father never wanted our family to practice Christianity and my mom couldn’t live life without God in it. A consistent war to tip the scale was ever present in the house I called home.

Scott Coville was an only child who disappeared out of his family’s life in 1988. It took Reta (Scott’s mother) over twenty years to find out what happened to her son. In that time, Scott’s father passed on having never received the closure he justly deserved. It broke both of his parent’s hearts.

I have witnessed first hand the rage that can blossom out of the rot where love once bloomed. Money and power are the most common motives for murder. Yet, nothing says I loved you quite like a brutal, premeditated end to someone’s life.

In a small fishing town called Sitka nestled near the state capitol of Alaska, collage sweethearts Jane and Scott decided to begin their lives together. Scott made money for his little family through work he picked up while fishing and canning and Jane felt she found the love of her life. It didn’t take long for the honeymoon phase to come to a screeching halt.

The endless disagreements became too much for Scott to handle, so he reached out to his mother in Fairbanks for support. The couple made strides to seek out church counseling yet it left the pastor feeling increasingly uneasy about the well-being of this match. As Scott began discussing divorce, something toxic ruptured inside of Jane.

If you’re wearing your Sabbath best, with your shoes shined and white blouse freshly pressed. Even though your hands are covered in red… do you sound like a sheep, or howl like a rabid wolf instead? As Scott slept in their bed, Jane shot her husband with a 357 magnum point blank in the head.

Petite Jane cut Scott’s body into pieces. She parked his car at the airport nearby and meticulously cleaned the home they had once shared together. Since Sitka was a fishing town, garbage was incinerated rather than taken to a landfill. Scott was picked up with the trash and never found again.

Grown men are allowed to leave their wives and travel elsewhere. Jane and Scott had been married for only a few months. His mother Reta had lost all hope of finding her son but she suspected Jane all along.

A three page letter was written to Reta by Jane explaining how the marriage went wrong. She fabricated details about choosing to go separate ways and moving on with their lives. Yet the first mother’s day after Scott had been murdered, Jane sent Reta a card in her handwriting and signed Scott’s name next to hers.

In 2007 Jane’s second husband provided a tip to police in regard’s to the disappearance. She wasn’t officially arrested until 2010. 20 Years had gone by since Reta reported her son as a missing person. Through taped phone calls, detectives were able to get Jane to admit what she had done on record. Without evidence of a body, the majority of the prosecution rested on obtaining a confession.

A video of Jane’s interview with police can be found on YouTube or by watching the episode created by the popular TV show called Snapped. Reth finally took responsibility for what she had done. While various versions of this story can be found online, I believe that I am able to add a unique perspective because I personally knew her. She wasn’t just a murderer, she was a friend.

When Mr. Reth told my step-father about the murder… it was long before the Reth’s had gotten divorced. The police had not yet become more involved in the case. It seemed too fanatical to be factual, especially when we had no knowledge of Jane being married to anyone other than the husband she had introduced us to. It was for that reason we never told anyone or gave it a second thought.

The police didn’t find any evidence of drug abuse between Jane or Scott with the exception of recreational marijuana. She had no criminal history before or after the murder of her husband. A passing rumor was overheard about a plea for self defense, but it wasn’t supported by the evidence.

Only Jane could attest to her state of mind. The district attorney motioned to charge Jane with first-degree murder. When she decided to plead guilty, the charges were reduced to second-degree murder. She is currently serving thirty-six years behind bars which will lessen to Twenty-four years with good behavior.

When news of Jane’s arrest and transport back to Alaska was released to the press, my mom made a call to her childhood best friend. Joy Wiebe was a petite woman of faith who shared her life as an ice road trucker with a significant number of followers on Instagram. When she wasn’t risking her life, she was working on her farm… in Fairbanks, Alaska. To our shock, Joy was close friend’s with Reta and her son Scott.

Joy described the Coville’s as a kind and loving family. She was enraged over the devastation Jane’s presence had inflicted upon them, while my mom (having known Reth) remained skeptical. Yet the question lingers ever present in my mind… if you’re wearing your Sabbath best, with your shoes shined and white blouse freshly pressed. Even though your hands are covered in red… are you a sheep, or a wolf instead?

Notes from the Author:

When Autumn leaves are dropping, I love curling up with a spine tingling mystery and a hot cup of tea… don’t you? This true story was written from my own perspective. I have painstakingly gathered research to share this final product with all of you. Names were removed to obscure identities. The only sources I’ll be sharing are the ones I discovered online. If you enjoy a good mystery, it may shock you to know more than one murder occurred within the church I attended. I can’t wait to write about the other one.

If you’re wondering where I’ve been while my blog has remained dormant, I sincerely apologize. I agonized over being gone for so long! An early frost arrived on our little farm that set into motion a long to-do list. Farm work will forever take priority. So what have I been up to? Mending fences, building a greenhouse, planting lots (and lots) of bulbs, washing buckets and blankets, buying and storing feed, taking care of my kid, mucking out and preparing stalls for winter, going trick-or-treating, hiring a new farrier to trim hooves, and attempting to balance normal house work and appointments.

Whew! I’m trying to get back on schedule, bare with me. For now, I’ll be thrilled to post once a week even if it doesn’t fall on a Tuesday. Next to spring, Autumn is the busiest time of the year for us. We’re preparing garden beds so our farm is overflowing with blooms. On a positive note, I snagged three AMAZING frosted windows for the greenhouse build… they came out of a mansion! I am DYING (figuratively) to walk you through it on video when it’s all finished. Once winter rolls in… I’ll be spending almost all of my free time avoiding the cold by writing blogs in front of our wood burning stove. Don’t give up on me yet!

Sources:

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/article/mother-cold-case-describes-years-wondering-about-her-son/2010/11/28/?fbclid=IwAR2KcaHIkgqtg2qcBwRxa3DPFQ_goi0L6iUYI-Cthy5KTaAKrcwQ__x3-zI

https://murderpedia.org/female.R/r/reth-jane.htm?fbclid=IwAR0uYWGJ918k4vh5m1P_e7WKY3lViNJOkIcVLViNLyv-3-Qk1ioJ4VWnjqc#:~:text=Jane%20Reth%2C%2046%2C%20admitted%20in,George%20in%20Sitka%20Superior%20Court

https://www.kcaw.org/2011/03/03/reth-sentenced-in-1988-cold-case-murder/

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/chibrknews-36-years-for-exoswego-woman-in-alaska-murder-20110306-story.html

https://www.oxygen.com/snapped/photos/episode-2-jane-reth#265011

Cover Image of the Joker: Makeup was done by Kayla @FacesByGremlina, Photography was done by yours truly.

98 thoughts on “The Wolf”

  1. That’s quite a story. Very well written. The woman who murdered my friends mom when we were 16 years old was one of the first cases of a murderer getting off for reasons of insanity. She lived a normal life after that as far as I can tell. I found her obituary a few years ago. It simply read here name (that she changed after the murder), that she had worked for the phone company, that se has a mom and grandmother. That was it. A rather unremarkable woman one might think. I doubt her grandchildren know she was a murderer. My friends family was torn apart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WOW that’s heartbreaking. Jane got away with murder for TWENTY years and if she hadn’t confessed… I doubt that she would have been sent to jail for it. You should write about what happened to your friend! That’s some amazing historical significance.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! I was mesmerized by that entire story. I certainly have known people who pretended to be something they weren’t, but nothing to this degree. Pretty disturbing.

    I had noticed your absence, (It’s nice to be missed.😊) and I had hoped everything was fine with you and your family. (There’s this thing called life that takes priority.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Respectfully, have you read my blog post about my home intruder? When a man broke into my home in the middle of the night and stood over my son in my bedroom? My only ability to defend myself was pulling my firearm. This isn’t political and it’s not possible to maintain people’s rights to protect themselves while removing firearms when someone gets angry. She could have used poison, a car to run him over, she could have slit his throat… people will use anything to get what they want. I for one am thankful to have been able to protect my son and myself as we waited almost 45 minuets for police to find us.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My dog helped save us. He tried to break in 2 more times. I had PTSD for a really long time. I still do sometimes but it’s not as bad as it was the first 6 months afterwards.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. By the way, with the exception of what happened to me… I don’t dive into politics here. So in the future I hope you will be respectful of that because I truly value my friendship with you and I enjoy reading your blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awe I’m sorry! Well I’ll be sharing things more up your alley this next week. Coming up with a list of stories about thankfulness and inspiration. All good thoughts from here out for a while 🥰🤗

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      1. December and January are much slower days for farm chores. We basically hunker down and tackle only the essentials and I’m looking forward to it! Come February I have more bulbs and a ton of seeds to order for summer blooms but that’s kind of exciting! I also have to plant my ranunculus inside of the hoop house 🤗 I’m elated for spring again. It will be busy but… A ton of new things should be coming up and I’m dying to see the fruit of all this labor. Finishing the greenhouse is my number one goal. It will be incredible to sit inside when it’s done. The windows are spectacular, I bought two stunning very old French doors and in my mind when bulbs are popping up, I’m sitting at a little table with both doors wide open surrounded by cut flowers. Another exciting adventure is ordering a bunch of aquatic plants for arrangements. Lotus flowers are quite high on my list. As many as I can afford.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating! Chilling that you met her and how fascinating your internal reaction. Loved the story.

    I used to hang out at a dog park with Ann Rule, the true crime writer’s son. Loved her true crime and you’ve written it just as well!

    So fun to see you back online. Congratulations on getting all that work done!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe she was more of a Northwest true crime writer but she was friends with Ted Bundy at one point of her life (they worked on a hot line together). She wrote some pretty interesting books.

        The compliment is well-deserved.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I loooove true crime and I’m not gonna lie, I got such a kick out of writing this one. I’m looking forward to writing the other one that I have a connection to. I’ll probably save it for the month of January when everyone gets board of the warm fuzzy heartwarming stuff and they need a break from the weather 😆.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. What a creepy but well-told story, LaShelle! I listen to a couple of true crime podcasts, and it is heartbreaking how long it can be before families and victims get justice. Jane apparently knew how to get rid of the evidence, and no good prosecutor is going to pursue a case on circumstantial evidence alone. Your personal story also shows how well some people can hide their crimes from others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you liked it!! It’s amazing to me how tiny she was as a woman and how innocent she came across and yet her true nature was very dark. I can’t imagine my only son getting taken away from me and not knowing what happened to him for over 20 years

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Terrifying, but not surprising. Dad would often share similar stories of married couples ending up killing each other during his time handling criminal law cases. But here in the Philippines, such instances are often few and far in between.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe? Or perhaps they rely on one another far more and they seem to push for large family dynamics? That’s really a nature vs nurture argument though. It’s a bit of both isn’t it?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Oy vey. What a story! And … yes, red flags should be heeded, even if we don’t know what message they send. Intuition is a good thing. And people who’d done evil deeds very often do not look like it from the outside. Though there are, almost always, clues. Unease. Fear in the corners of others’ eyes. A caution. A wall. And often, a zeal to excoriate others that hides a secret one cannot truly clean up.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow – what a story LaShelle and I think you could find yourself a gig as a mystery writer. This was very interesting and it brought back a few memories for me.

    When I was a kid I lived in Canada and when we went to visit my grandmother after moving here, depending on the route we took we would pass by the Hamilton Mountains. My mom would always mention “that’s where Mrs. Dick threw her husband, all in pieces.” It was a famous case at the time because first of all, Canada was always known as a place of few murders and often referred to as “Canada the Good” – so not only did you have a murder taking place, but a murderess.

    I will send you the story in a separate comment … two murderesses … hmm.

    It was a sensational story at the time, but here in Michigan, we also had a similar case, but the parties were reversed and Stephen Grant murdered his wife, Tara Grant. He said she went on a business trip and pleaded with the media to have help in finding her … his wife, the mother of his children. It was Wintertime and Stephen grant worked for his father, some type of small machine shop. Evidently the police didn’t buy his story and got a search warrant for the marital home – they discovered parts of Tara Grant’s torso in the garage, then searched the shop where Stephen Grant worked (his father’s shop) and they used big blades (like saw blades) and there was blood on some of the blades – he had cut up her body and stashed bits and pieces on the shop roof. The were on to him and Stephen Grant escaped and drove up North, no coat or Winter protection and was found in the woods with frostbite (poor baby) … he was sentenced to 50-80 years in prison, their two kids live with her sister in Ohio and Stephen Grant’s father committed suicide shortly afterward as he was upset what happened in his shop and his heartless son.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WOAH! That sounds like a wild story too!! Oh my goodness, people are so crazy. Do you like/enjoy murder mysteries? I love the who and why cases. I think people are drawn to what they can’t explain or understand. I appreciate your thoughtful comment about being a mystery writer. I do enjoy it! 🤪🤗

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      1. I like mystery stories – my mom loved them and whenever here was a book about a true life murder she would try to get it from the library or buy it in paperwork. I would take that to heart about being a mystery writer. Yes, that was a wild story about Evelyn Dick and how she cut up her husband and tossed him around the Hamilton Mountain. Amazing there was a story to be found.

        When I worked at the diner through college, the owner of the diner was murdered and went missing in mid August, found three weeks later in the trunk of his car, feet and hands bound, clothes off and in a pile beside him plus his gold watch, wedding ring, wallet and handguns on top of the clothing. People came over from Albania where he was from and he went back to Albania after owning several restaurants here to find a wife. He brought her back – she spoke no English and they had a daughter, named her after me because he thought that was nice a female was going to college … cute and sweet little girl. After he was murdered, they were whisked back to live with her parents. Very awful and creepy to be honest.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. WOW. Did they ever find out who killed him? It almost sounds like torture or a personal vendetta. I wonder if his business just put him on the path of a messed up person! The stories that unnerve me the most, are ones about stalking. It’s more common than we realize especially because of internet access. You can Google someone and find their home address and telephone number in no time at all. Horror movies aren’t my thing at all but stalking scares the daylight out of me.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I never heard about the story of Mrs. Dick except for my mom mentioning it – he was killed before I was born. It does make you wonder and the stalking is the worst nighmare you can imagine. I had someone who was stalking me but through letters and postcards and also when we got Windows computers with internet at our law firm (we were on “dummy terminals” and no internet until it got close to Y2K so we got a little more modern), he heard me talking to his wife (who also rode the bus). I said I had taken a computer class with the City but we didn’t learn a lot, like using a floppy disk. So he turned to me and said “that’s easy – I’ll give you a floppy disk with something on it to view and you can practice. He did that and handed it to me, in front of his wife, who was a friend for years and when I opened the document, it was a four-page love letter to me, professing his love all these years – I knew the two of them for 10-15 years. Really? I gave it back the next day and looked at him, rolled my eyes and said “thanks.” So then he started sending letters and postcards to work. Strange and creepy stuff – everyone knew about it. The administrative partner at the law firm told me to get a PPO against him, so I did. He was not allowed to ride the bus the same time as me, nor approach me, nor write letters/cards. He and she got new jobs, lost them and he killed her (she was sleeping and put the pillow over her head and shot her) then he committed suicide. Before he killed himself, he called the cops to say what he had done to Carrie, then he would leave the door open so someone would find a home for their cat, then he shot himself while on the phone. It was all over the news – I was pretty freaked out about it.

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      1. Yes, that is so true. I thought you’d find it interesting. Who knows when a murderess lurks amongst us? The Stephen Grant trial was pretty horrific. I saw part of it online as I don’t have TV … she was killed in 2007. I liked the lead Prosecutor and thought he did a good job and then about five years ago, that prosecutor was charged with embezzling funds for his own use and is now in jail.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. OSWEGO!! I think I remember hearing about this years ago. Your delivery of this story was engaging. I can’t imagine knowing someone and then realizing they murdered another human being. It must have caused you to reexamine many things. 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! Small world my friend!! I’m delighted that you remembered it. After the press release we couldn’t wrap our heads around how we knew before police did but didn’t believe it. I definitely still feel mind blown over this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You, my dear friend, have so many interesting stories from your life! This one was captivating from beginning to end. I like how you told it, let us feel the shock with you as the truth came to light. How terrible for the victim’s mother to have to wait so long for answers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh thank you so much Bridgette!! It means a lot to me that you felt that way ☺️🥰 I adore how you write, I admire you big time, there’s no greater compliment than getting one from someone you admire 😍. I hope you’re having an excellent weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome!! I need to catch up on your blog SO badly. Bare with me! I have some appointments this week for my kiddo and a huge shipment of bulbs arriving tomorrow 😆 busy busy!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh man I can’t wait to do a video tour!! I’m trying to decide when I want to shoot it. I’m hoping to order a ton of new seeds for summer blooms too. Maybe I’ll just do them throughout the seasons as it grows!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Like Pete, I did notice your hiatus too. Great to see you again. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the games Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley, but the way you describe your life is definitely reminiscent of a ‘daily life’ of my character in those games. Such a nice way to live, from everything I know about you thus far.

    Looking forward to your regular return once you get free time away from your daily duties!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awe Stuart!!! I’m honored that you missed me!! I missed you too 🥰. I’m trying hard to get back on schedule, I probably won’t be back to posting on Tuesday’s for a little while longer but I’ll be satisfied if I can slip a weekly post in. I’m so glad I caught up some on your blog today 😊

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  11. Woah, what a gripping mystery you weave! I love a good episode of Dateline or 20/20 and this read just like one! I will be looking her up later tonight I bet (in bed, falling down a rabbit hole of my own lol)! Crazy the degrees of separation there! And not to worry about being away – we are always here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad that this is up your alley! I can’t wait to hear what you think about the things that you find. It took a while for my family and I to wrap our heads around the fact that we knew her and we knew before the police did.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I read this post several days ago; I think when it came on my feed the first time. Obviously extremely well written, but I did not comment that day because I was wondering, how would I judge this person if I was in your spot. Would I be disgusted and dismiss that person off from any pleasant memories I would have had with them, or just take them at face value; how were they to me. Is it possible that someone could change after doing something gruesome, or is it just a matter of the darkness being subdued and just needs an opportunity to come out. Besides, all of us have darkness, but we choose not to act on all our dark thoughts. I wanted to collect my thoughts before I commented, but I realised I would never have the answer. There was no way I was going to simulate a similar mental state without actually going through the experience of knowing someone like that. Of course, I hope I never have to. Again, nicely written! 🙂

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    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Near the end I talked a bit about how she could have been abused behind closed doors. The evidence wasn’t strong to support it so I only briefly touched on it so as not to re-victimize the victim. The truth is we don’t know. We’ll never know. I hugged her when I saw her because she was a friend. I talked with her, walked with her, ate with her, listened to her… And I had no idea. So I didn’t judge her because I treated her with the evidence I was given. She was an odd duck but we all are to some degree or another. I do believe people can change but I think it takes quite a lot of effort which is why many don’t. I also think we all are capable of evil if the circumstances are right for it. The real question is, if we did something that gruesome… Could we go on eating/sleeping/making friends and carrying on as if we didn’t? That says more to me than anything. I know in my heart, I wouldn’t be able to do that. Would you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. False guilt eats me to no end, forget real guilt. True. Can someone go on with their lives as if nothing happened? The guilt would kill me. But again, it would depend on how much the person felt like a victim. Mind works in strange ways to justify your actions!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. It is insane how close you were to this case. I watch Snapped, Dateline, and other crime stories all the time, and I always wonder if there’s anyone out there who know the person who is profiled! Welp, you answered that question.

    This was a very engaging write up, too.

    Like

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