New details in mysterious death of Nashville firefighter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Jesse Reed’s body was found in the water in Waverly more than five years ago. Now, new information about evidence in the case points to why the Nashville firefighter’s family thinks Reed’s wife is responsible for his death.

“We miss him every day,” Jesse’s mother, Ruby Reed, said. 

The pain hasn’t wavered while the circumstances surrounding Jesse’s death remain under investigation.

Newly-obtained reports from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office back up Ruby’s claims that her 32-year-old son was killed. 

“What we have read has confirmed what we thought happened. Someone was responsible for his death, that’s what I believe. Some of the things that we have read over were just devastating,” the mother explained. 

Jesse — who was a member of the Nashville Fire Department — was found dead on March 17, 2018, nearly two weeks after his wife, Mary Ellen Reed, claimed the Jeep they were in plunged into the water near Mason’s Boat Dock in Waverly.

NewsNation affiliate WKRN-TV in Nashville has since learned that investigators said Jesse’s body was found half a mile upstream from where the Jeep was retrieved. According to an initial report from the TBI, the car was found with the windows down, doors unlocked, and back hatch open, with no evidence of braking before the vehicle went into the water.

Based on court documents obtained by WKRN, Mary Ellen has not been ruled out as a suspect in his death.

Mary Ellen reportedly gave conflicting accounts of the turn of events, telling investigators at the time that she and Jesse went trail riding and that she couldn’t recall a two-hour time period between leaving the house with Jesse and waking up on the roadway near where the vehicle entered the water.

In addition, investigators pointed out that the contents within Mary Ellen’s purse were dry.

A witness statement said Mary Ellen submitted to a polygraph and that her sister indicated she failed. In interviews, she asserted her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination to every question asked.

“I now know a little bit of what happened to him, but that’s not all the answers, and it would be nice to know the answers, but that’s not going to change anything,” Ruby explained. “My son is still gone and he’s not coming back.”

A neighbor claimed she witnessed Jesse and Mary Ellen fighting the night before he was reported missing, saying she even saw Mary Ellen push Jesse. According to the newly-obtained paperwork, investigators documented bruises to Mary Ellen’s arms, knees, and knuckles.

The evidence was heartbreaking for Jesse’s mother.

“It’s terrible to know that that’s what happened to your child. Nobody should have to read something like that about their child, about how he was injured, and it’s just devastating to us,” Ruby said.

Jesse’s autopsy report listed the cause of death as drowning, with blunt force injuries as contributing factors.

The new paperwork is part of a complaint filed by Jesse’s insurance company after Mary Ellen tried to collect life insurance following Jesse’s death.

The Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office told WKRN the case is still an open investigation, with Mary Ellen considered a person of interest.

WKRN reached out to Mary Ellen’s attorneys for comment, they have yet to respond.


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