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Reitz Murder (1985)

The Glenn Reitz Murder: Time Line


MADERA - In 1985, Glenn Reitz was living a full life. At the time of his death he was helping form a drum and bugle corps for the Boy Scouts of America. He was in great physical shape from working out six days a week. He was water skiing on one day and snow skiing the next. He had friends that cared for him. He had students who remember fondly how he would offer his help in and out of the classroom. And he had his secret life.

Once the Madera Police got this case Detectives Dale Padgett and David Foster did a great job of piecing together the last 48 hours of the Thomas Jefferson teacher's life. Through phone records, interviews and good police work almost every hour of Reitz's last 48 hours was accounted for in the police reports. Of course we do not know for sure who was in the house with Reitz when he was killed but we do know who he came in contact with shortly before.

From the time-line we know that Reitz was alive at 11:00pm Monday night and that there was still someone in his house at 7:00am Tuesday morning. We know that he met a male subject Sunday night at a bar in Fresno that none of the other bar patrons recognized. That subject may have also been seen by neighbors at his door just hours before he was killed.

Time lines can often add clarity and thereby help identify the truth about a situation. They can point to areas that need more questions answered. My hope in publishing this timeline is that someone may come forward with information they didn't realize would be helpful at the time. Of course we may not be lucky enough to learn anything new.

It may be that the person who could have offered the information has since died themselves. Even the killer may already be dead. My intent in writing these articles is only to get the information out to the public in an attempt to developed a new lead or flesh out an old one. All I know for sure is that there is no reason for the Madera Police Department to take a second look at this case unless new information can be uncovered.




Reitz went to Dean Blankenship's home and the two left for Eastman Lake where they used his boat motor. Blankenship says they returned from the lake around 5:00pm



Dean Blankenship says he had picked up Reitz Sunday morning to go snow skiing at Sierra Summit. He stated that his wife Nancy and Julie O'Kane had gone with them and they all returned around 6:00pm


Blankenship said he had dropped Reitz off at his house so he could shower and change for a dinner they had planned at a mutual friend's house.


Blankenship says he arrived at the home of Frank and Sally Smith for the planned dinner. Reitz had arrived five minutes later. Blankenship told police that he and his wife had left the dinner at 8:45pm around the same time that Reitz left.


Reitz leaves Frank and Sally Smith's house.


According to bartender Glenn Webb, Reitz entered the Red Lantern Bar in Fresno and sat down to play the Frogger video game. About twenty minutes later a Mexican American male with three tear drop and one star tattoo on the right side of his face sat down and was talking to the victim. Bartender says each tattoo was about the size of a finger nail


Reitz and Mexican American male leaving the bar together. The bartender thinks the subject's name was "Joe" and he was wearing a white t-shirt and blue Levis 501 jeans. . The subject was between 26-28 years of age, 5'9 to 5'10, 160 to 170 pounds. Webb told Captain Andy Moore that he had been out of town until 3/20/85 when he was interviewed by Moore. Webb said he had not seen the Mexican-American subject in the bar before that Sunday.



Reitz teaches spends a full day at Thomas Jefferson teaching English.


Todd Wilson knocked on Reitz's front door but no one answered so he left.


John Lyndsay and his wife were jogging in the area of Rotan and saw a man knock on Reitz's door then enter the house.


Dean Blankenship drove over to the Reitz's residence but left because he noticed the teacher's vehicle was not in the driveway. Blankenship tells police that he assumed Reitz's car being gone meant he was not home, because Reitz was the only one that drove that car.


Todd Wilson saw Reitz at KMart on Howard Road and talked with him for a while.


Eric Adolphson, a friend of Todd Wilson, sees Reitz at Pioneer Chicken at Gateway and Yosemite Avenues.


Joey Rios called Reitz to talk about the drum corps they were both involved in but said Reitz sounded tired and did not want to talk on the phone.


According to Chris DaSilva, the owner of the Madera Athletic Club, Reitz walked into the club for his evening work out. DaSilva told police that he did not know Reitz very well, but that they had mutual friends. He was not sure what time Reitz left the gym.


Ron Correa first attempts to call Glenn Reitz about the drum and bugle corps they are both involved in. There was no answer on Reitz's home phone.


Randy Durbin, an employee at the Madera Athletic Club, said Reitz had left the gym by himself around 9:15pm (2115). He said the victim was wearing red running shorts, a white t-shirt and had a Stanford University sweatshirt wrapped around his waist. Durbin said Reitz was talking to Robert White before driving away.


Robert White said Reitz had offered him a ride home or to go get a soda. White declined, saying that he had his bicycle with him at the gym. White also mentions that he believes Reitz's car was in front of the gym from 6:15 to 6:30pm earlier in the evening when he arrived at the gym.


Ron Correa called Glenn Reitz a second time. This time Reitz answered his phone.  Correa says he spoke with Reitz from 10:20pm to 11:10pm about the Boy Scout's Drum and Bugle Corps. He said Reitz was in good spirits during the call that the two were talking and laughing. Then all of a sudden Reitz said he had get off the phone and get some tests ready for the next school day.  Correa told police that while he was talking to Reitz he did not get the sense that anyone else was in his house.


A neighbor looking outside notices that a light was on in the northwest bedroom and in the front room. The neighbor left her house for a few minutes and when she returned she noticed the bedroom light was still on but the front room light had been shut off. She says that she remembers Reitz's car being in the drive way both times.


Reitz made a call to the Sigma Chi Fraternity at Fresno State. He was on the phone long enough to have a conversation with someone. Reitz was friends with a gay member of the fraternity who claims he did not speak with the teacher the night he was killed. A copy of the Sigma Chi Phone Directory was found in the police report.


Second neighbor reported that he had heard three loud banging doors outside and went to his front door to look. He observed a vehicle parked behind the victims car in the drive way. He saw someone at the victims front door talking to him in normal tones. He was positive that he recognized the voice of Reitz. He believes the subject talking to Reitz was a Mexican American male. The conversation seemed friendly and so he was no longer alarmed and went back inside.



Jeremy May (age 13 years-old)  told police that he tried calling Reitz's house three times on the morning of 3-19-1985. He said the phone just rang at 6:45am with no answer. He called again at 7:00am and the phone was busy. The third time he called was 7:05 and the phone again rang with no answer.


Reitz does not show up for school nor does he call for a substitute.


Thomas Jefferson Junior High Principal Ben Barsotti walks over to Reitz's house and gets no answer at the front door. He walks into the backyard though the garage and looks in a window. He sees what he believes is a body with a blanket draped over it. He had the school secretary call the police.


Madera Police discover Reitz's body in his house at 517 Rotan Avenue. His car (1976 Toyota Celica Hatchback) is missing.


Rosemary Barnett, a Chevron gas station attendant in Wilcox, Arizona, accepted Glenn Reitz's Chevron credit card for the purchase of gasoline. Attendant says she could not describe or  identify the suspect.


The victim's card would be used two more times at two separate Chevron Stations in El Paso, Texas the next day for gasoline and Marlboro cigarettes. A composite drawings would come from the El Paso Police Department (See below).


So...who was "Joe" and has anyone seen him in any of the Fresno bars that Glenn Reitz frequented after the murder of the teacher? And what of the four teardrop tattoos? Is this the man that a neighbor saw talking to Reitz at the victim's door after 11:00pm March 18. 1985?

Even if this was the last person seen speaking to Reitz before his death, how can it be determined whether Reitz was still alive when this person left without interviewing him? Could this person have moved both his own car and Reitz's by the following morning or is it possible there was a second person with him? Could this explain why the composite drawing is so different from the description of 'Joe'?

There is very little information in the police file about what was done to try and locate or identify 'Joe'. His teardrop tattoo has no proven fixed meaning but similar tats almost always suggests the person has served prison time. It can mean that the wearer has killed someone. The number of teardrops sometimes indicates how many years the wearer spent in prison or the number of times he was raped while serving time. It may also be to show the loss of a loved one or fellow gang member.

There is no record in the police report of having run this combination of tattoos (teardrops and star) through any local gang or tattoo database. Of course the FBI only recently began consolidating local information into a national database in 2012. In 1985 the police may have still needed to rely on first-hand knowledge about gang markings.  If  'Joe' was not a local, there may not have been any local law enforcement at the time who could shed light on the meaning of his tattoos.

And what about the car and credit cards stolen from Reitz's house that night? Who took Reitz's car to Texas? Had the car changed hands after his death or was the driver involved in the murder?

It's tempting to assume that the last person to be at the victim's house near the time he was killed was the man driving his stolen vehicle, a 1976 Toyota Celica GT Hatchback. This person was seen by a gas station attendant from El Paso, Texas.

Next week we are going to go over the search for the victim's car and the composite drawing that came from the use of the victim's credit card in three different gas stations in Arizona and Texas.


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