The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

June 24, 2014

Jarrett now suspect in Mich. murder

FARRELL — The former Farrell man accused of sexually assaulting an elderly Michigan woman also has been named a suspect in the murder of a younger woman who disappeared in April.

Shawn James Jarrett, 50, was arraigned Monday afternoon in a Michigan District Court on one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of first-degree home invasion that police said occurred Thursday at the 85-year-old woman’s Grandville home.

Jarrett pleaded guilty in March 1982 to murdering his neighbor, 64-year-old Mary Sposito of Farrell. Former Mercer County District Attorney James Epstein told 24 Hour News 8 in Grand Rapids, Mich., that Jarrett broke into the woman’s home, strangled her and raped her. Jarrett served his full 30-year sentence for third-degree murder, was released Dec. 31, 2012, then moved in with his parents in Ohio.

He was arrested again Saturday, accused of talking his way into the woman’s house and then assaulting and robbing her.

“This is a brutal crime, a very brutal crime,” Grandville Police Chief Dan Steere said Monday. “We had some residents in Grandville that came forward as witnesses and gave critical pieces of information. This was truly a community effort that ...  got him locked up.”

During his video arraignment Monday, Jarrett denied any involvement. “I had nothing to do with this,” he told the judge.

Jarrett was denied bond and is behind bars at the Kent County Jail.

Also Monday, police in Walker, Mich., said Jarrett has been upgraded to a suspect in the murder of Berta Yolanda Reyes, 42. Police previously considered him a person of interest in the case.

Reyes’ body was found in May at a construction site, less than a mile away from where she was last seen on April 24 at Neal Mast & Sons Greenhouse in Walker, where she worked.

After detectives reinterviewed Reyes’ co-workers and reviewed employment paperwork at the greenhouse, they discovered Jarrett also had been working at the greenhouse the day Reyes disappeared. He quit his job there the day she went missing, police said.

Investigators said Jarrett’s past criminal history also factored into their decision to raise Jarrett’s status to that of a suspect in the case.

Walker police said they have not yet brought any charges against Jarrett in the Reyes murder, and they do not have any physical evidence tying him to the case.

However, they said they will be working closely with the Grandville police forensic unit, according to a Walker police official.

Jarrett is expected back in court for a preliminary hearing in the Grandville case on July 3.

 

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