Madison County Man Found Guilty of Murdering his Former Wife over Child Custody

For Immediate Release
September 22, 2011
For more information, please contact
Michael Guest at (601) 825-1472

Madison and Rankin Counties’ District Attorney Michael Guest announced today that Joseph Robert Reith was convicted in Madison County by a jury, after a three-day trial, for murdering his former wife over the custody of their son. He was sentenced to life in prison, following a jury verdict that was reached in less than an hour.

On March 23, 2010, Joseph Reith contacted his former wife, Tammy Pearl Gangle Reith, and told her that their son wanted to know if she could come to the apartment to visit and play. There were several calls as well as text messages that showed Joseph Reith was attempting to determine exactly what time she would arrive.

A friend of the victim testified that she dropped Tammy off at her vehicle that afternoon and she was very excited about seeing her son. When the victim arrived, she walked into the one bedroom apartment to find “Sponge Bob Square Pants” playing on the television and the sofa bed, which the child slept in, opened. The victim then went into the master bedroom believing that her son was there.

Once in the bedroom her former husband attacked her and began beating her with a wrench that had duct tape around it. He struck her multiple times in the bedroom as she attempted to fight him off. She was able to make her way into the living room, where he continued to beat her with the wrench. He then went into the kitchen and removed a knife from the butcher’s set and stabbed her numerous times in the chest and neck. The investigation later revealed blood on the butcher’s set.

The Canton Police Department responded to Joseph Reith’s apartment, after a call from his mother stating that she needed police at her son’s apartment, and found Tammy Reith, on her back beaten with a butcher knife protruding from her neck.

District Attorney Michael Guest stated, “This was a case of premeditated murder that was planned by Joseph Reith. He lured his former wife over to his apartment under the pretext that her son was present. He staged the living room to make it look like the child was present to get her to enter the apartment and then into the bedroom. Once the victim was in the master bedroom, Joseph Reith took a wrench, which he had previously taped closed, and began beating her repeatedly.”

Guest added, “His actions following the murder also go to his state of mind. Instead of calling for help, Reith took the time to change his clothes and to go into the bathroom and begin cleaning himself up. Reith later called his parents, a friend and he was on the phone with his attorney when the police arrived.”

Guest added, “The murder was a gruesome act of violence that even Reith’s attorney described the apartment as a war zone. Reith took the life of a little boy’s mother who on that day only wanted to spend time with her son.”

Guest concluded, “The defendant’s claim that this was manslaughter that was triggered by the victim’s desire for custody of their child was soundly rejected by the jury. Custody should be determined by the courts, not by murder. The Canton Police Department, along with the assistance of the Attorney General’s Cybercrime Unit, did an outstanding job of investigating this case and should be applauded for a job well done.”