Local News

Woman to serve up to 99 years in cold-case murder

SITKA, ALASKA Jane Reth was scheduled to go on trial for Murder in the 1st Degree in October. Instead, attorney Jon Marc Petersen announced that his client would change her plea, and agree to a lesser charge.

Jane Reth, who was known in Sitka in 1988 as Jane Colville, admitted to Superior Court judge David George that she “knowingly engaged in conduct resulting in the death of Scott M. Colville,” using words paraphrasing the Murder in the 2nd Degree statute.

Reth appeared telephonically from the Lemon Creek Correctional Center in Juneau, where she has been held since her extradition from Illinois in January.

Judge George questioned Reth extensively about whether she understood the rights she would be giving up by pleading out – namely, a trial in which the state would be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to twelve jurors that she killed her husband.

Reth, speaking in a clear and calm voice responded “I understand.”

The state has not shown its hand in the case, which was re-opened a few years ago. In previous hearings in Sitka, cold-case prosecutor Pat Gullufsen has alluded only to taped telephone conversations.

The state was represented in this latest hearing by assistant district attorney Jean Seaton. Judge George asked her flatly if there was a “factual basis” for the new plea. She began with the basic facts of the case.

“Mr. Scott Colville went missing around April 1988 from here in Sitka. His mother, despite its being his birthday, was unable to reach him. After that date, no sign was ever seen of him again. Ms. Reth admitted to her second husband that the reason he wasn’t around was that she was responsible for his death.”

Seaton went on to explain that there were “a couple of other steps.” Investigators found Reth living in Illinois in 2007; Seaton says Reth also admitted then to killing Colville and disposing of his body.

“She had shot him while he was in bed in a trailer here in Sitka, and disposed of his body by cutting it with an axe and putting it in dark garbage bags. At that time garbage disposal was by incinerator, so no trace was ever found.”

Scott Colville’s mother attended the hearing, also by telephone. Judge George proposed a sentencing date of March 3rd – a Thursday. She said that would give her time to fly to Sitka.

Scott Colville was twenty-six years old when he died. Jane Reth faces a possible prison term of ninety-nine years, and a maximum fine of $75,000. Both the state and the defense will likely call a number of witnesses to participate at sentencing.
© Copyright 1970, Raven Radio Foundation Inc.

Comments

Please read our comment guidelines.

Recent News

Sound bites from a new food journalism project

1-10857258_10205034110426783_8951821357476668670_o
Sally Helm with the Island Institute shares their new journalism project. Radio + Food is a collaboration between Sitka Story Lab and Kettleson Memorial Library and will give middle school and high school students the opportunity to interview someone about food - cooking it, hunting it, buying it, and eating it. Downloadable audio. more

Sitka, Mt. Edgecumbe to meet in rematch for conference title

The Sitka Lady Wolves may have eliminated Mt. Edgecumbe, but they'll have to beat Petersburg twice to win the Region V title. (KCAW photo/Ingfrid Olney-Miller)
The Sitka Wolves earned a re-match with the Mt. Edgecumbe Braves Friday, with the 3A Region V Basketball championship on the line. The Sitka Lady Wolves eliminated the Mt. Edgecumbe Lady Braves Thursday, and will challenge Petersburg for the title. more