Paul Dennis Reid
|Paul Dennis Reid|
|Born||November 12, 1957|
|Died||November 1, 2013(aged 55)|
|Other names||The Fast Food Killer|
Span of killings
|February 16, 1997–April 23, 1997|
|June 25, 1997|
Paul Dennis Reid, Jr. (November 12, 1957 – November 1, 2013), also known as The Fast Food Killer, was an American serial killer, convicted and sentenced to death for seven murders during three fast food restaurant robberies in Metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee and Clarksville, Tennessee between the months of February and April 1997. At the time of the murders, Reid was on parole from an 1983 conviction in Texas on charges relating to the aggravated armed robbery of a Houston steakhouse. He had served seven years of a 20-year sentence, and was paroled in 1990. Originally from Richland Hills, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth, Reid went to Nashville to pursue a career as a country music singer.
At Captain D's on Lebanon Road in Donelson, Tennessee, on the morning of February 16, 1997, Reid entered the store before opening, under the guise of applying for a job. Once inside, he forced employee Sarah Jackson, 16, and the manager, Steve Hampton, 25, into the restaurant's cooler and bound their hands and feet. Reid forced the two to lie on the floor and then shot them execution style. Money, including large amounts of change, was found missing from the cash register. Reid used the cash from this robbery as a down payment on a car two days later.
At McDonald's on Lebanon Road in Hermitage, Tennessee [3.4 miles (5.5 km) northeast of Captain D's], on the evening of March 23, 1997, Reid approached two employees behind the store after closing. At gunpoint, he forced them back into the restaurant. Reid shot three employees to death execution style in the storeroom: Andrea Brown, 17; Ronald Santiago, 27; and Robert A. Sewell, Jr., 23. Reid attempted to shoot José Antonio Ramirez Gonzalez, but his weapon failed. Reid then stabbed Gonzalez 17 times and left him for dead. Gonzalez avoided further attacks by lying completely still and pretending to be dead. Reid then took US$3000 from the cash registers and fled. When the scene was discovered, Gonzalez was taken to a nearby hospital, treated, and ultimately survived. He eventually testified against Reid.
At Baskin-Robbins on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard in Clarksville, Tennessee, on the evening of April 23, 1997, Reid went to the door after closing and persuaded the employees to let him inside. Once inside, Reid kidnapped Angela Holmes, 21, and Michelle Mace, 16 and forced the two to Dunbar Cave State Park. Their bodies were discovered the next day at Dunbar Cave Park.
On June 25, 1997, Reid went to the home of the Shoney's manager, Mitchell Lynn Roberts, who had fired Reid from a dishwashing job the day before the Captain D's murders. The stated reason for his firing was that Reid had lost his temper and had thrown a dish at a fellow employee. Reid, armed with a gun and knife, knocked on the Roberts' front door. The man's son videotaped Reid at the door. Reid was allowed in the house with the knowledge that he was just there to talk to the Shoney's manager about getting his job back. After some time had passed, the Shoney's manager (feeling uneasy about Reid) attempted to get Reid to leave his property by walking outside with him and towards his car. At that point, Reid pulled his gun and knife on Roberts and demanded that he put on handcuffs and get into his car. The Shoney's manager, realizing that Reid was the one that committed the fast food murders, talked his way back up to his house and wrestled with Reid in an attempt to get inside his house to protect his wife, daughter, and son. After Reid left Roberts' house, he called him and tried to tell him he was sorry for what he had done. Roberts' talked Reid into coming back to his home so they could talk. Police captured and arrested Reid at the house. The footage was subsequently released to the media following police investigation. After Reid was to be released on bond by the Cheatham County Sheriff's Dept, Roberts contacted Nashville Police and asked for Reid to be considered the prime suspect in the fast food murders. He was later charged in the Captain D's and McDonald's murders and, eventually, the Baskin-Robbins murders.
Reid was convicted on seven counts of first-degree murder across three trials. Jurors from West and East Tennessee were brought in and sequestered, because a judge determined that the overwhelming media coverage in Nashville would prevent the selection of an unbiased jury from Middle Tennessee.
In the Captain D's murders, Steve Hampton's driver's license and a video rental card were found in the median of Ellington Parkway with Reid's fingerprints on each. Reid was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder.
In the Baskin-Robbins murders, Reid's car was found to contain forensic evidence from the victims, as well as evidence of a credit card gasoline purchase near the location of the bodies on the night of the murders, placing him at the scene around the time of the crime in an area roughly 40 miles (64 km) from his home. Blood evidence from the victims was found on his shoes. He was found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder. The Clarksville trial took place in the time between the two Nashville trials.
Jose Antonio Ramirez Gonzalez, the lone surviving victim of the McDonald's robbery, identified Reid as his attacker in court. This was considered the key piece of evidence needed to convict him of the McDonald's murders. Reid was found guilty on three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
In addition to his seven murder convictions, Reid was also convicted on multiple counts of lesser charges related to the same crimes, including especially aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping.
Reid received seven death sentences for his convictions, the first two coming on April 20, 1999. Reid's execution was stayed several times in the years following, including an instance in 2003 just hours before the scheduled execution. Reid eventually waived his right to an appeal. Members of his family, along with anti-death penalty activists, claimed he was mentally handicapped and unable to make such a decision, and filed multiple motions (both successful and unsuccessful) to stay his execution. However, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld all of Reid's sentences. Reid's case has received national attention among anti-death penalty activists.
His latest execution date was scheduled for January 3, 2008, but was stayed on December 26, 2007 by US District Judge Todd J. Campbell, pending investigation into the constitutionality of Tennessee's lethal injection methods. The stay was part of a larger investigation, and not directly related to Reid's case. On April 16, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in a Kentucky case upholding the legality of execution by lethal injection. The state of Tennessee immediately began appealing stays of execution to resume death penalty cases, including Reid's.
After his arrest, Reid's family (notably his sister, Linda Martiniano) argued that he was mentally incompetent to stand trial, and after his convictions, they argued that he was not able to make sound legal decisions. Reid displayed erratic decision-making, choosing to appeal some verdicts and not others, and professing his will to die as sentenced after fighting to avoid such a fate earlier in his defense. At the same time, however, Reid showed signs of paranoia, calling his defense team "actors" and claiming he was part of a United States government mind-control project called "Scientific Technology" that monitored his every move. In cross-examinations, the prosecution attempted to counter this defense by claiming Reid was a crafty con artist using these "delusions" as a defense mechanism.
As a result of Reid's spree, several fast food restaurants in the Nashville area began closing earlier and police patrols around such establishments became more frequent. The city of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, a Nashville suburb, began a program requiring all fast food employees to carry a decal on the rear window of their automobiles, so police could identify any out-of-place cars in late-night patrols.
Other crimes suspected
For a time, Reid was considered a prime suspect in the 1993 Brown's Chicken massacre in Palatine, Illinois due to the similar nature of the crime in relation to the two incidents in Nashville. Characteristics included shoeprints found at the scene and descriptions of the killer that matched Reid's profile. His alibi checked out, however, and Reid was later ruled out as a suspect. Juan Luna was convicted on seven counts of murder in 2007. On September 29, 2009, Luna's cohort, James Degorski, was found guilty of all seven counts of murder. On October 20, 2009, Degorski was sentenced to life in prison. All but two of the jurors had voted for the death penalty.
Reid's original trial was the first murder trial to be broadcast live in the state of Tennessee (via WTVF's NewsChannel5+ cable channel), following the allowance of cameras in the courtroom a few years earlier. His subsequent trials were also broadcast live. His story was the subject of a Discovery Channel documentary in 2004 and also featured in the television program Cold Blood on the Investigation Discovery channel. The episode's original air date was May 31, 2012 and is titled "Nightmare In Nashville."
Reid died at Nashville General Hospital at Meharry, on November 1, 2013. The cause of death was awaiting investigation by the state medical examiner's office. Reid had been in the hospital for about two weeks.
- Mass murderer Paul Dennis Reid dies on death row
- Tennessee Department of Correction Inmate Photos
- "Texan Wants To Drop Death Row Appeals". KWTX.com. December 2, 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- [dead link]
- "State Supreme Court Affirms Reid Convictions, Death Sentences For McDonald's Murders". The Chattanoogan. December 27, 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- "The Serial Killer Hit List - Part III". Mayhem.net. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- "1st Jury Brought From Another City in 7 Years". Nashville, Tennessee: NewsChannel 5.com. 2006-08-07. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- "Opinions". TN AOC - Supreme Court. 2nd Quarter 2005. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- Reid, Paul Dennis (June 28). "The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty". Democracyinaction.org. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- [dead link]
- "Multiple Death Sentences". State.tn.us. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- Icamina, Paul (December 26, 2007). "Federal Court Stays Execution Of Convicted Tennessee Murderer". Nashville, TN: Allheadlinenews.com. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- "Injection ruling lets Tenn. resume cases".[dead link]
- "Judge to rule on convicted serial killer's inaction".[dead link]
- Man Convicted in 7 Slayings Dies in Tenn. Hospital
- http://www.tsc.state.tn.us/opinions/tsc/CapCases/reidPD/ReidPD.htm - Various legal documentation related to Reid case
- https://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2006/reidpd_122706.pdf - 2006 Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals decision to uphold death sentences
- https://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2006/reidpdDIS_122706.pdf - 2006 Tennessee Court of Criminal appeals dissenting opinion