Family retrieves remains of woman missing for 20 years
By Joe Gorman
Lina Reyes-Geddes is finally going home.
After missing for 20 years from Youngstown and Austintown, classified as a Jane Doe homicide victim in Utah, her remains were returned to her family Tuesday by the Utah Department Of Public Safety.
Agent Brian Davis of the UDPS said a sister of Reyes-Geddes’, Lucero Reyes-Contreas, will take her sister’s remains to her native Mexico.
Reyes-Contreas flew to Utah from Mexico last week, her trip paid for by a fund used to help victims of crimes, Davis said.
Davis and his counterpart in Youngstown, Detective Sgt. David Sweeney, announced in November that Reyes-Geddes, who had gone missing in 1998, had been identified.
Reyes-Geddes lived in Austintown, but Youngstown handled her missing-persons investigation because her husband owned a business in the city and also because at the time, Youngstown had one of the few Spanish-speaking officers in the area, who was needed because her family is from Mexico.
Reyes-Geddes left for Laredo, Texas, in August 1998 to visit family and friends but never made it there. She was reported missing in September 1998, the same month a body was found in a remote area of Utah, bound in a sleeping bag with a gunshot wound to the head. The death was ruled a homicide, but she was not identified until November 2018 after pleas from both Sweeney and authorities in Utah.
Sweeney and the Utah authorities were working the case, but their roles were not known to each other until a person emailed both agencies and told them the cases were similar. Investigators acted on the tip and were able to get a DNA sample and identify Reyes-Geddes.
“It’s been real good cooperation in Utah and Ohio,” Davis said.
Davis said there was a lot of paperwork that family members had to go through to get Reyes-Geddes’ death certificate and also to have her disinterred. Davis said the family plans to have the remains cremated and to take them back to Mexico.
Family members also will visit the UDPS cold-case archive and database, Davis said, to stress how important it is to solve a cold case and the closure it can bring to a family.
As for finding out who killed Reyes-Geddes, Davis called the case “challenging.” He said one person of interest is her late husband, Edward Geddes, who committed suicide in 2001 in Nevada.
Since last year, Sweeney has been assigned to missing-person cases, as the Youngstown department has tried to place a new emphasis on them. Three cases that are currently in the forefront are cases involving Joanne Coughlin, who was last seen Dec. 27, 1974; Ronald Rankin, last seen July 18, 2012; and Dean Donnadio, last seen Sept. 1, 2005. Anyone with information on those cases can call Sweeney at 330-742-8911.
The Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office is also looking for Phyliss E. Brewer, who was last seen June 13, 1981. Anyone with information on that case can call Detective Pat Mondora at 330-480-5051.