Local News

Relatives Shocked at Mother's Arrest

Posted September 19, 1996 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Third-grader Justin Reese was found strangled to death Saturday in a cotton field about a mile from his Bunn Level home. Investigators say no one had seen or heard from him since he left his house that day.

Investigators had indicated Wednesday that some family members, including the boy's mother, 34-year-old Keturah Reese, would be questioned and possibly asked to submit to polygraph testing.

Keturah Reese was charged with first degree murder Wednesday night, just hours after she attended her son's crowded and highly emotional funeral service. She is being held in Harnett County jail without bond.

A cousin said he found out about the arrest on the news Wednesday night and was shocked.

Keturah Reese was arrested after investigators compared statements they got from family, neighbors and friends of the family. Capt. Jerry Lamm of the Harnett County sheriff's department said that on Saturday, Reese told investigators her son left the yard of their home without her knowledge and against her wishes. On Sunday, she told a reporter that she had given the boy permission to walk down the road to visit an uncle and cousin who were chopping trees nearby.

In addition, investigators told WRAL-TV5 reporterMark Robertsthat tire tracks found near the boy's body matched a car the mother had been driving.

Harnett County Sheriff Larry Knott said Reese confessed to the crime after nearly seven hours of interrogation on Wednesday following her son's funeral.

Authorities declined to comment on a motive.