Reese Charged In Cold Case Killing Of 13-Year-Old

Dawn Stuard's Slaying Solved, Police Say

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office announced Thursday afternoon that it had filed murder charges against Paul Reese Sr. in a 25-year-old cold case killing of a 13-year-old girl.

Prosecutor Terry Curry said Reese, 68, the father of Brian Reese, serving time for shooting Indianapolis police Officer Jason Fishburn in 2008, had long been a suspect in killing of Dawn Stuard, 13, whose body was found in a secluded, wooded area in the 4600 block of East 23rd Street on March 16, 1986.

"Dedicated police work and recent DNA evidence are what ultimately led to the charge filed today," Curry said.

Last year, Indianapolis police reopened their investigation of Stuard's slaying.

Curry said a laboratory forensics report confirmed last week that Stuard's DNA matched blood found in the basement of Reese's Bosart Avenue home.

Stuard's parents had reported her missing less than a day before a parent who was walking her child to school found the body.

The girl's cause of death was determined to be strangulation and blunt-force injury to the head. Police said there was also signs she had been sexually assaulted and that her mouth had been taped and her hands bound.

"Stuard had been assaulted and murdered before she had a chance to turn 14 years old," Steve DuBois, of Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana, said in December.

Paul Reese

Stuard attended Forest Manor Junior High School and lived in the 1600 block of Dequincy Street.

Reese's brother originally told investigators that his brother admitted to killing Stuard, saying he had sex with her and then killed her.

A witness at the time said she saw Reese, his wife, Barbara Reese, and one of their sons, Paul Reese Jr., load something heavy rolled in carpet into the family's car. Forensic technicians later found carpet fibers on Stuard's body.

In January, police interviewed an inmate in the Pendleton Correctional Facility who had written a letter to Indianapolis police regarding Reese Sr.

The inmate said that while in a cell next to Reese Sr. at the Marion County Jail in 2010, Reese made comments that his life was over and that he had done things that he couldn't take back.

"He had done something one time to a neighbor... something real bad to a neighbor of mine that I can't never take back," Reese Sr. is quoted as saying to the inmate in the probable cause affidavit. "He made somebody trust him and he betrayed their trust... he hasn't told anybody... he has taken somebody's life before."

Curry said Indianapolis police Sgt. Steve West, who investigated the Stuard case as his first homicide investigation and retired in 2007, was instrumental in leading to an arrest. West has worked for the prosecutor's office since 2008.

"Sgt. West took this case and never let it go," Curry said.

West personally told Stuard's family Thursday that charges would be filed in the case.

"They are very pleased. It's an emotional time for them," he said. "They have had to deal with this for 24 to 25 years. They are glad to know that we never gave up on the case and Dawn will have her day in court."

Reese Sr. was convicted of burglary last year. He was sentenced in December to 20 years in prison.

He will have an initial court hearing Friday morning.