$6,000 Reward Posted to Help Heat Up Kittery, ME, Cold Case
The host of a podcast that helped bring attention to the 1983 disappearance of Kittery resident Reeves K. Johnson, Kittery Police, and his family hope some reward money will help bring up information to solve the cold case.
Johnson was a resident of Kittery who worked at Donnelly Manufacturing in Exeter, and was reported missing by his family in 1983 after they stopped hearing from him. The then 31-year-old's bank account was emptied by extravagant purchases made with his checks, according to Kristen Seavey, host of the Maine based podcast "Murder, She Told."
The case was dormant until Kittery Police Det. Brian Commer reopened the case with permission of the Johnson family. It also caught Seavey's attention as a story for her podcast, which covers New England true crime cases.
"I reached out to Brian, told him what I did and we met up. The basically gave me permission to use the whole file so we opened up the case, put it in an episode. I interviewed family, I interviewed detectives," Seavey told Seacoast Current. "This year we were like, 'how can we keep this going because there's people we need to connect with.' This case is quite the mystery."
The biggest mystery of the case is who picked up his final check from Donnelly Manufacturing? Seavey said someone called the company identifying themselves as Johnson, said they were quitting, and arranged for his final paycheck to be mailed.
Johnson's parents arranged with police to stake out the post office and see if their son would come for his check, according to Seavey. A man came with the keys to his mailbox, took his check, and threw out the rest of the mail.
"His mother confronted him and the man said 'Reeves is with me at an apartment in Portsmouth. I'll take you to him.' By the time they got outside the man ran off but the mom took a picture of him. When she got it developed, she realized he put his hand up in front of his face," Seavey said.
Throwing Spaghetti at a Wall
Reopening Johnson's case 39 years later comes with many challenges. The cabin where he lived no longer exists, nor does the bank where Johnson had his account. Donnelly Manufacturing has also gone out of business.
"Everything is so different than it was in 1983. We've been trying to find any names from Donnelly Manufacturing and his co-workers," Seavey said. "Reeves was a very quiet person so we don't really know any of his friends or if he had any friends who really knew him during this time. It's really like throwing a ton of spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks."
Kittery Police Chief Robert Richter announced the $6,000 reward during an event at the Star Theater in Kittery Saturday with Johnson's family and Seavey. The money was put up by Seavey, Cummer, the Johnson family and Kittery Police.
They will all be at the Kittery Block Party on Saturday, June 18, handing out flyers and talking to people in hopes of finding someone who knew Johnson.
"Those are the people we need to connect with and we haven't yet. He had a girlfriend when he was in Kittery at some point. We have no idea what her name was. We just want to know what his life was like. The whole community's going to come out to this event so this will be a great time to connect with the community and may not have seen any of the TV coverage or may not have heard of this."
Seavey is looking for volunteers to help at the block party by handing out flyers and talking to people about Johnson.
The Portsmouth Herald was first to report on the reopening of the case.