PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An Easthampton woman pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to state police detectives in a murder investigation.
Laura Reilly, 44, pleaded guilty to two counts of misleading police and was sentenced by Judge John A. Agostini in Berkshire Superior Court to two to four years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Cedar Junction. The charges relate to the investigation into the alleged homicide of Joanne Ringer of Clarksburg in 2017.
"The judge agreed this was an egregious example of misleading police," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said in a statement on Friday. "We sought incarceration because Laura Reilly's lies not only stymied police in apprehending a murder suspect, they also had a devastating and lasting effect on Joanne Ringer's family and friends."
Ringer was reported missing in March 2017. Police identified Ringer's husband, Charles Reidy as a suspect, believing he had killed her. Police found Ringer's car abandoned in Easthampton a few days after she had been reported missing.
Reilly, an ex-girlfriend of Reidy, lied to police about being in contact with Reidy in the days surrounding Ringer's disappearance. Police later determined those statements were misleading and "wasted important time in the state police investigation," according to the district attorney's office.
In April, Reidy committed suicide. Ringer's body was not found until February 2018 in Hatfield. An autopsy could not confirm the cause of death because more than a year had passed since she went missing.
"If Laura Reilly told the truth about driving Reidy home on the day he reported Ringer missing and spending time with him the day after, police could have questioned Reidy about the killing prior to him committing suicide," Harrington said. "I offer my condolences to Ms. Ringer's loved ones, and we hope that this plea and sentence gives them some measure of comfort."
The district attorney's office recommended three to four years in prison. First Assistant District Attorney Karen Bell argued the case, calling Reidy's misleading statements "specific, intentional, purposeful, and calculated."
"The defendant's conduct and lies were specific, intentional, purposeful and calculated," Bell said in a statement. "At the time that the defendant spoke to the police, she was fully aware of the nature of the investigation. Intentionally misleading the police cuts at the core of our criminal justice system and threatens public safety."
Agostini concurred with the district attorney's office.
"The public was really the victim in this case," Agostini said, referencing the long search for Ringer and the extensive news coverage it produced. "It was not just police that were misled. It was all of us."
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