Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all, and welcome to Southern Macabre! I’m Aeryn and I am so glad that y’all could join me today. Y’all aren’t going to believe this, but I totally forgot Valentine’s Day was on a Monday so I did our standard Missing Person Monday. Once I realized my error around 9:15 Sunday night, I knew I had to do something special.
So we will continue Missing Person Monday on Friday and today I’m going to tell you about love, betrayal, and murder.
Morris, Alabama is a town of 1,860 outside of Birmingham. The town is named after an early female pioneer named Mary “Mae” Hunter Morris. Three famous people are from Morris including U.S. Softball Olympian, Haylie McCleney, former NFL Quarterback, Peter Tom Willis, and actor Pat Buttram. I’m not big into sports (weird for where I live, I know), but I have been a huge fan of Pat Buttram for as long as I can remember. For those of y’all who don’t recognize the name, he voiced a ton of Disney characters and he was Mr. Haney on Green Acres.
Anyway, let’s get into today’s story. Michael Reese was divorced and hoping to find love again. He went to church, was well-liked in the community, and was loved by his friends and family. When he met Cindy Henderson, a young widow after her husband committed suicide, everyone picked on him for taking her to Milo’s on their first date. Milo’s is a legendary fast-food restaurant in Alabama that is known for its hamburgers, french fries, and sweet tea. He brushed them off saying that they both really loved the food and neither had a problem having their first date there.
The couple married in 2009 and Michael joined her church, Sardis Baptist because she was the music director and he was baptized into membership there in 2013 by Jeffrey David Brown.
Michael and Cindy Reese lived across the street from the police department in Morris and were having a room built on by a local contractor. On January 18, 2015, Michael picked Cindy up from work and the couple went to Sardis Baptist Church for Bible study.
After church, the couple stopped at their favorite restaurant, Milo’s. When they arrived home, Cindy remembered that they were out of orange juice and Michael didn’t have lunch meat for his sandwich the next day. So she left her food to get cold and ran to Piggly Wiggly.
When she returned home, the front door was open, a coffee table had been knocked over, and some valuables were missing. She called the police and waited outside.
The police were immediately suspicious. First of all, who breaks into a house across from the police department? Second, the house wasn’t ransacked, just a few things had been moved. Last, who leaves their food to get cold knowing fast food is inedible if you don’t eat it right away? Even one of the investigators said that the bag of Milo’s getting colder by the minute on the counter was more suspicious than the overturned coffee table!
Michael had been shot in the back of the head, execution-style, near the backdoor. Being a small town, the police knew who it was as soon as they saw his lifeless body lying beside a ladder on the floor. They told Cindy who immediately played the part of grieving widow.
The next day the rumor mill started up with people whispering, “Did you know his wife was sleeping with the preacher? I’ll bet she did it.”
Michael and Cindy were close friends of the Browns. They spent a lot of time together and they watched the preacher’s two children often. Then Michael discovered his wife was having an affair with their preacher, but he forgave her and took her to Disney World to reconnect with his wife. Brown called her every day that she was gone, but she claimed the affair was never physical after that.
Cindy made the funeral arrangements while hugging Michael’s family, who had heard the rumors and suspected her but had to bite their tongues. If you watch the show Southern Gothic on Hulu you will see Earl Reese, Michael’s father, saying, “Michael liked Boar’s Head luncheon meat. They don’t sell it at Piggly Wiggly, they have it down there at Publix. The Publix is across the street from Milo’s. They were already there; why didn’t she get it then?”
After getting cellphone records, police discovered that Cindy had been on the phone with Jeffrey when Michael was killed and several times the day after. They found out that he had recently divorced his wife to be with her and both of their names were on important documents, like a joint savings account, his truck title, and his apartment lease.
The couple was arrested a month later, but Cindy bonded out. The rumor was that she used the money she and Michael had borrowed to renovate their home. She bragged to a neighbor that her lawyer had told her that she had nothing to worry about. He warned her that an old police saying was, “First one to squeal gets the best deal and you’re out here talking to me. What do you think your boyfriend’s doing up there at the jail?”
He was squealing and confessed that she had killed Michael and given him her .38 pistol and jewelry to get rid of, which he did. As a result, he’s up for parole next year, which seems ridiculous to me. If he isn’t paroled then he will serve his full twenty-year sentence.
Brown said that she met him at a gas station, where she handed him everything along with $15 for gas. Then she went to the Piggly Wiggly to grab groceries. She got home, made her “discovery”, and called the police while he was still on the phone! The 911 dispatcher heard her say, “My phone’s dying, I’ll call you back”!
Not only did the evil duo kill Michael, but the stress they put on his mother who had started chemo the day before he was shot likely killed her as well. She saw Cindy arrested, but died before she could be convicted and sentenced.
Cindy Reese is still in prison and will be eligible for parole in 2030 so eleven years after she was sentenced! However, and this was a real WTF moment for me, she was moved from Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women to a work-release facility near the detectives who solved Michael’s case and his grieving family without any of their knowledge. Once it was discovered, there was so much outrage that she was sent back to Tutwiler.
I hope y’all enjoyed today’s Valentine’s special! If you did, please leave us a like and a review on Apple Podcasts or Goodpods. Also, come back on Wednesday for our weekly paranormal episode! I hope y’all have a great Valentine’s Day and a wonderful, safe week. God bless, y’all!