Forensic evidence unearthed by CSIs was instrumental in identifying a prime suspect in the murder of Yolanda Reyes of Walker, Michigan, a mother of four who disappeared in April 2014. Thankfully, her accused killer was recently apprehended and is set to stand trial later this year.
In April of last year, Reyes’ family and friends were horrified that she had not clocked back in for work at her job at Neal Mast and Sons Greenhouse even though she had been dropped off at the company to start her workday. Construction workers found a partially-clothed body weeks later while using heavy equipment at a building site nearby.
Because the workers had been moving earth, the body was covered in mud. However, her family recognized the clothes as the ones Reyes had been wearing when she disappeared. The police ruled the death a homicide, and crime scene investigators spent hours at the scene to make sure they didn’t miss any vital clues. Dental records confirmed that the body was that of Yolanda Reyes.
The prime suspect in the case was Shawn Jarrett—a man who had served 30 years for murder, burglary, and aggravated assault in Pennsylvania. A prison doctor identified him as a sociopath before his release and predicted that he would kill again.
Already in jail for raping an elderly woman in the Grand Rapids area, the police were struck by similarities between the Pennsylvania murder and that of Reyes. In addition, Jarrett was a co-worker of the murder victim, although he initially denied knowing her.
Forensic evidence was key to linking Jarrett to the crime. A CSI testified that she found blood on a belt buckle and the headrest in the back seat of Jarrett’s car. Forensic investigators identified Jarrett’s DNA on Reyes’ cell phone and her broken cell phone case, which were found outside of her workplace. The evidence against Jarrett is damning enough that he will stand trial for the murder of Yolanda Reyes.