Connected successfully  The Okie Legacy: Vol 18, Iss 8 1956 - Investigators Seek Clues In Brutal Murder of Coed

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1956 - Investigators Seek Clues In Brutal Murder of Coed


The news of Mildred Ann Reynolds death made it all the North to a newspaper in Kalispell, Montana, The Daily Inter Lake, with these headlines: "Investigators Seek Clues In Brutal Murder of Coed." Will this "cold case" ever be re-opened and settled? Is it worth it to settle the ghosts that haunt the area of Avard, Oklahoma?

Found on Newspapers.com

Alva, Okla. (UP) -- A preliminary autopsy report showed that an attractive coed was burned alive in her automobile, apparently after a savage sex attack. Woods County Atty. H. D. Potts said further chemical tests would b e needed to confirm that the cremated victim, Mrs. Mildred Ann Reynolds, was raped. But surface appearances indicated she was. Mrs. Reynolds, married only nine months, was the wife of E. D. Reynolds, a high school basketball coach at nearby Avard, Oklahoma. She was attending Northwestern State College and was driving home Tuesday when attacked.

Investigators said someone crowded Mrs. Reynolds' automobile off a country road and caused it to smash into a tree. Plaster casts were made of the second vehicle's tire tracks. Tall, dry grass was smashed flat near where her car was found, indicating a fierce struggle took place. One of her shoes, stained with blood, lay nearby.

Mrs. Reynolds' fire-blackened body was in the automobile. Investigators said a highly flammable liquid had been splashed over the car, which was then set afire.

The heat was so intense that one of Mrs. Reynolds' legs ws burned off at the knee and the glass in the automobile melted. Dr. A. Max Shideler, who began an autopsy yesterday (14 March), said the heat also apparently fractured her skull.

Officers took statements from Reynolds and a 20 year old nephew of Mrs. Reynolds who lived with the couple. The nephew, Jim Huckabee, was apparently the last person to talk with the pretty coed, except for her killer.

Huckabee said he had lunch with Mrs. Reynolds at the college and last saw her shortly before 1 p.m. Her body was found at 1:40 p.m., 12 miles southwest of Alva.

We know that the State Crime Bureau Agent Ivan Gates said questioning of the coed's classmates revealed "no new leads indicating concrete evidence of either foul play or accident." And the investigation of the death was extended after a coroner's jury ruled out accidental causes and recommend further probing.

We also know a preliminary report of an autopsy performed by Dr. A. Max Shideler at University hospital in Oklahoma City showed the victim was alive when the fire devoured her automobile on a lonely country road southwest of Alva, Oklahoma.

Contents of the report were revealed by Woods County Attorney H. D. Potts. These tests, Potts said, should determine whether the murderer had first raped the quiet student-housewife. Dr. Shideler told Potts Mrs. Reynolds' skull had been fractured, but he believed it was a result of the intense heat.

They suspected the car smashed into a blackjack tree. Mrs. Reynolds was raped and murdered, or murdered and raped. Then the body and the car were smashed with some highly inflammable liquid and set on fire. The fire was so intense that one of Mildred's legs was burned off and the glass in the automobile melted.

We also know that Mildred's husband, brother and a nephew, Jim Huckabee were questioned. Huckabee roomed with the Reynolds and was questioned for two or three hours. Huckabee said he usually rode home with Mildred, but didn't Tuesday. He ate lunch with her just before 1 p.m., he said, and stayed at college. The body was found at 1:40 p.m., 12 miles southwest of Alva and a mile from Avard.

Further investigation would depend on results of the autopsy, which was performed by state pathologists in Oklahoma City. Besides determining if she was ravished, the autopsy can show whether she was murdered before she was burned. If the fire killed her, the inside of her lungs will be burned.

College officials said Mrs. Reynolds was a rather shy but a good student. She did not take part in many collegiate activities.

A farmer, attracted by the burning automobile, found the body. State Crime Bureau Agent Sid Wilson said tire tracks showed her car had been forced off theft side of the road into the blackjack tree and pushed back for 150 yards. Tire prints shoed another vehicle had been at the scene. Casts were made of the prints. One of Mildred's shoes, with blood on it, was near the blackjack tree. Tall, dry grass was smashed flat near where the shoe was found, indicating that Mildred struggled fiercely for her life.
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