Michael Reese, 40, was shot and killed in his Morris, Alabama home on February 18, 2015. Nearly a month later, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office arrested Reese’s wife, Cindy Kaye Henderson Reese, and Jeffrey David Brown, charging both with the murder of Michael Reese. Dateline NBC is exploring the case on tonight’s episode.
Detectives said they found evidence that Cindy Reese, who worked with the Jefferson County Finance Department, was having an affair with Brown, the church pastor, and they decided to kill her husband so the two could be together, CBS42 reported at the time.
After the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office announced the charges against Reese and Brown, Chief Deputy Randy Christian told AL.com, “I think we all understand matters of the heart and the ups, downs, ebbs and flows of relationships. What we can’t understand and will never understand is someone getting so twisted, dark and lost that they believe cold-blooded murder is the answer. Yet here we are with three families ruined because of dark hearts, stupidity and extreme selfishness.”
Reese First Told Investigators That She Called 911 After Going to the Grocery Store & Returning to Find the Home Ransacked
On February 18, 2015, Cindy and Michael Reese went to church and Cindy Reese originally told detectives that she went to a local store afterward. When she returned home, she told them she found the house had been ransacked and called 911 at around 8 p.m., the Mirror reported. When the police arrived on the scene, they found the body of Michael Reese, who had been shot, in the kitchen in the rear of the home.
Christian told AL.com that detectives found no indication of forced entry and nothing was missing from the home.
During Reese’s trial, as reported by AL.com, the prosecution argued that when the couple returned home from church, she shot her husband in the back of his head, described by Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr as an “execution-style killing.” Reese then went to Piggly Wiggly, bought groceries and returned home, where she staged the place to look like a burglary before calling 911, prosecutors said.
In December 2016, Reese was found guilty of her husband’s murder after 90 minutes of jury deliberation, the outlet reported.
Brown & Cindy Reese Were Having an Affair for a While Before Michael Reese’s Murder, But Brown Eventually Testified Against His Former Partner
According to his obituary, Cindy and Michael Reese had been married five years. He was Cindy Reese’s second husband and the two met after her first husband died by suicide. The couple, who were regular members of the local church, lived a peaceful life until 2013 when Brown became the senior pastor at their church, the Mirror reported.
Brown and Cindy Reese, who was in charge of the music at church, began an affair that was eventually discovered by other church leaders. Brown stepped down from his role before the news broke to the whole town and it’s unclear if Michael Reese knew about his wife’s affair. According to the outlet, after Brown stepped down from his position as pastor, Cindy Reese gave him cash for his car and apartment.
Reese and Brown, who broke up sometime after their arrest, presented different stories during Reese’s trial. Brown, like Reese, was charged with murder in the 2015 shooting death, but Brown pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2016. In exchange for his guilty plea, Brown received a sentence of 20 years in prison and agreed to testify against Reese during her trial, AL.com reported at the time.
Brown testified for the prosecution that Cindy Reese frequently spoke about wanting her husband dead and once asked him to hire a hitman. Brown said he did try to hire two men but they turned him down, AL.com reported from the trial. He also testified that Reese frequently brought up the idea of poisoning her husband. The former pastor denied being in a sexual relationship with Reese.
During the trial, Reese said she loved her husband and did not want him to die. She admitted to having an affair with Brown but said Brown became angry that she would not divorce her husband. She said Brown shot and killed Michael Reese after hiding in the back of their home and ambushing him, the outlet reported during her trial.