On May 24, 2001, enlisted Army soldier Roger Reister, 27, found his pregnant wife Captain Lynn (Armstrong) Reister, 31, murdered in their off post home in El Paso, Texas. Roger claimed on a panicked 911 call that she was dead and it looked like her throat had been ripped out. Both were stationed at nearby Fort Bliss. Captain Reister was a Commander and was scheduled to transfer in just a few days to a new position as an ROTC instructor in Missouri. Captain Reister was a distinguished Norwich Academy graduate, a Commander, and an Air Defense Artillery Tactical Control Officer for patriot missiles in Saudi Arabia. Lynn was a mother to a five year old son Triston and was pregnant with another son. Lynn’s co-workers scheduled a going away party for her the day she died. She never showed up.
Lynn and Roger met at a club in Oxbar, Germany where both of them were stationed. Lynn thought Roger was charming and nice. They met when she was only twenty-two years old. She was a Lieutenant; he was Private First Class. In the Army it is against regulation to get involved with anyone below your rank unless you are married. Roger continued to salute Lynn while they simultaneously hid their relationship. Lynn was a higher ranking military officer and in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If they were found out, Lynn could have lost her career. Despite the risks, they both pursued a passionate relationship. Roger was approached by military leadership about the affair but denied it. They decided to get married in Denmark so they could openly be together and then Lynn got pregnant. Once they were married, the military couldn’t do anything. Roger was deployed and missed the birth of their son.
After Roger got home from deployment, Lynn was deployed to Hungary for six months. Now both of them experienced being away from their newborn and got a shot at being a single parent. The couple decided to ask for a transfer back to the states so they could raise their son. In the fall of 1996 they were transferred to Fort Bliss. Lynn had a Command and was shortly promoted to Captain. She was described as a great Commander who took care of her soldiers and their spouses. In the summer of 2000, Lynn deployed to Saudi Arabia as a Patriot Missile Commander. She had a highly stressful job because she made the decision when to launch the defensive missiles. Meanwhile Roger suspected her of cheating on him so when she returned home from Saudi Arabia, tensions were high. Lynn denied cheating on Roger but he moved to the barracks on post. Lynn did not want to give up on Roger because she didn’t believe in divorce so they went to marriage counseling. Eventually they reconciled and Roger moved back home, then Lynn found out she was pregnant with their second son.
On the day of the crime. Roger Reister took their son Triston to work with him for the day. Lynn stayed home because she had a doctor’s appointment and was going to pick up Triston after she was done. Early that same day, Roger claimed that his vehicle wouldn’t start and he called his brother Rodney to help him get it started. According to Roger, they both left afterwards. Roger tried calling Lynn throughout the day but she wasn’t answering the phone. He was beginning to get worried. When he got home from work he found Lynn dead on the bedroom floor. According to investigators her throat had been slit from ear to ear all the way to her spine. She had been nearly decapitated. Police always look at the spouse first but Roger had a solid alibi that day. He last saw Lynn alive at 4:30 a.m. before he left for work with his son. In the meantime, Roger’s brother Rodney showed up to the crime scene to support him. He claimed he had not seen Lynn for over a week and the only person he could think of that could do this may be a girl named April who had a crush on Roger.
According to Roger and Rodney, April hit on Roger while Lynn was deployed to Saudi Arabia and her Army husband was deployed to Korea. At one point Lynn’s tires had been slashed and they wondered if it was April. In addition Triston told investigators that “April wanted to marry daddy.” Investigators learned that Roger met April at a local dance club and she offered to help him with Triston while Lynn was deployed. Detectives questioned April next. She admitted to having an affair with Roger for a few months in 2000 but denied killing Lynn. April felt betrayed that Roger pointed the finger at her. She told investigators that Roger said “maybe when she gets back, I’ll take care of her for good.” But Roger told detectives that he was an every day man who cheats on his spouse and ended things with April when Lynn got home. Investigators learned that Roger continued to meet up with April 2-3 times a week at the dance club and Lynn caught him. After Lynn confronted Roger about the affair, he moved back to the barracks. Then Lynn found out April was pregnant with Roger’s child. When police interviewed April she was pregnant and admitted that she was pregnant with Roger’s child. April suggested detectives speak with Army soldier Patrick Meuller.
Patrick Mueller immediately asked for immunity from both the military and civilian authorities when questioned. Mueller was given immunity and shared with investigators that Roger asked him to kill Lynn. Roger asked him to stab her in the throat so she couldn’t scream. Roger convinced him to do it, built him up, offered $10,000 cash, and reminded him of the $250,000 life insurance pay-out. Mueller agreed to do it. The plan was for Roger to take Triston to work and leave the door unlocked but Mueller admitted to never going into the house because he got spooked when he thought a neighbor saw him. Mueller had an alibi. Mueller was friends with Roger’s brother Rodney and shared that Rodney might have beef with Lynn because she kicked him out of the marital home. Apparently Rodney had been in a lot of trouble including setting fires and stealing. Rodney moved in with them after getting out of jail in Florida. Roger and Lynn let him move in temporarily in an attempt to help him out. After six weeks of the living arrangement, Rodney put a strain on the marriage because he didn’t contribute to the household, laid around all day, and made no attempt to get a job. Rodney was also disrespectful to Lynn. Maybe Rodney had motive to kill Lynn because he had no job, little money, and nowhere to live. Rodney Reister was a person of interest.
Investigators questioned Rodney Reister who was now living with his girlfriend Amber. Rodney Reister told detectives that Roger asked him to kill Lynn because she was cheating on him. Rodney said Roger wanted her dead because Lynn would get custody of their son Triston in a divorce due to the fact that she is a military officer. Roger in essence pressured Rodney to kill Lynn for him. But Rodney said Lynn was awake when he entered the house so he took off. Rodney was one of six people Roger had manipulated and asked to kill his wife. Meanwhile, El Paso crime scene investigators discovered a bloody palm print on Captain Reister’s arm. The palm print did not match Roger Reister or his mistress April, but it did match Roger’s brother Rodney Reister. Police questioned Rodney again and this time he confessed to the crime. Rodney admitted to a second attempt the morning Lynn died. He also implicated Roger in the murder-for-hire plot. Roger set the plan in motion and used the problems with his vehicle as a signal for Rodney to kill Lynn. Roger took Rodney into the house, showed him where the knife was, and then went to work with his son. Roger told Rodney to cut her throat to keep her from screaming.
Rodney admitted to losing his nerve initially but Lynn saw him. In the struggle Lynn said to Rodney “you don’t have to do this” and “don’t believe Roger.” A pregnant Lynn fought for her life but was no match for the knife wielding Rodney. Rodney Reister nearly decapitated Lynn when he cut her throat and Roger left him a fresh set of clothes so he could leave the home without raising any suspicion. The motive was the $250,000 Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI) pay-out. Roger offered Rodney $1000 to kill Lynn and then more after he got the insurance money. Rodney was arrested for capital murder and faced the death penalty. The big question in Rodney’s case was did he do it for love or did he do it for money. The jury decided Rodney committed first degree murder for the love of his brother and he was sentenced to life in prison. Roger Reister was arrested but claimed that his brother Rodney acted alone despite four people willing to testify that he asked them to kill his wife. A civilian jury found Roger guilty of four counts of solicitation of murder and he was sentenced to four concurrent life terms in prison. The conclusion: Roger wanted girls, money, the house, and custody of his kid; Roger didn’t want to move to Missouri and be married anymore.
A soldier comes home with his five year old son and finds his wife, an Army Officer stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, brutally stabbed to death. -The Affairs of Soldiers, Shadow of Doubt (S1,E2)
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