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Reitz Murder (1985)

The Glenn Reitz Murder: Local Killer(s)


MADERA - Since the death of Glenn Reitz rumors have spread like wild fire. Such is human nature when a man dies in such a way. While the evidence indicates that the murderer was a transient, there are folks that believe that Reitz's murderer still lives in Madera and the investigation into a transient killer and the moving of Reitz's car to Louisiana is nothing more than a massive cover-up to protect a local man or men responsible for the death of the teacher.

The local theory is broken down into two camps. One, Reitz was involved with a local married man and wanted him to leave his wife. Two, Reitz was a part of a group of men that in secret lead a gay lifestyle and shared the company of men from gay bars in the area or hitchhikers coming through the area.

The first theory is simple. It is believed by some that Reitz was involved with a local man who was gay but married to a woman and had kids. On the night of his murder Reitz threatened to 'out' the married man and that man killed Reitz to keep his silence. To draw the suspicion away from Madera, the married man drove Reitz's car out of state and hid it in the gravel pit in Louisiana.

The problem with this theory is the composite drawing. The man in the drawing was said to be in his early twenties and witnesses say he was traveling alone and used Reitz's credit cards. Why would someone that just committed a murder draw attention to himself by using the victims credit cards multiple times?

If there is any truth to a local killer theory, it must have involved multiple people; at least two. There were reports from neighbors that some time around midnight on the night Reitz was killed, a second car was parked behind Reitz's Toyota in his drive-way.

According to the police reports Reitz was killed some time between midnight and 3am on March 19, 1985 based on the state of rigor mortis when the body was found at 10am that morning.

Reitz was not only brutally murdered with a hatchet or machete, but his head and torso were also covered up with a bath towel. Why would someone cover up the victim unless they knew them?

The second theory is that, like Reitz, there were many Madera men from all walks of life that also shared a secret life. These men were rumored to include doctors, attorneys, teachers, farmers, business owners and even future politicians. Most of these men were supposedly married and had children. These men would meet at different houses around the valley to share sexual relations. They were rumored to bring in young men found at adult video and book stores or gay bars through out the valley. Some say they would invite hitchhikers they picked up and pay them for an evening of services, with a few of the members of this group joining in on the activities and others just watching.

In talking to a few old timers about this theory, specific names came up which caused me to say, "Hell no". But after looking at the relationships between these people over the last twenty-eight years ties can be seen especially when you start looking at the disclosure statements by many locally elected officials.

The problems with this theory are the same as the first. Except that this theory has added possible explanations. For example, couldn't the group have paid one of their hitch-hiker friends to drive the car to Louisiana? Couldn't that person have used the victim's credit cards in Arizona and Texas before ditching the plates and then the car?

When I asked why the hitch-hiker hasn't spoken up in all this time? It was speculated that he was either killed by someone in the group or that he may have died of AIDS at some point in the last twenty-eight years.

Can either of these theories be proven? At this point, no.  Should either of them be given much credence at all? It's difficult to say at this point, partly because of the resistance I have encountered while trying to research this case.  For example, when I contacted a Madera Police captain that was in charge of the investigation to ask some questions about the files, his phone number was changed a week later. In my sixteen years of reporting I've been shut down by lots people. Never has anyone had to change a phone number to avoid my questions.

Even with all that, I still doubt the local killer theories for one simple reason; people, especially a group of people, can't typically keep a secret that long. Someone would have come out (so to speak) in all this time. I would like to think that guilt would weigh on someone's mind and at least one of the group would try to get the story out there. But my cynical side tells me how unlikely it is that in twenty-eight years there was no bitter ex-wife or boyfriend associated with the group who was willing to tell what they knew?

As for the people keeping the theories alive? Heck I still believe the CIA had something to do with the killing of Kennedy in Dallas. We all love conspiracy theories. Sometimes they are just plain 'more exciting' than the truth.

...............................................  April 19


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