Friday, March 17, 2006

Murder Ridge: Three Is All

While sorting through the Cletus Reese story, I've discovered additional information.

There were questions raised about whether Reese should have been on the street. Politicians tried to make hay with the Reese murders by condemning the governor and the condition of state mental hospitals. One thing for certain: most people considered Reese harmless. Even after his stay at the mental hospital, he seemed innocent enough.

I spoke with Coshocton resident Cindy Bradford whose father worked with Reese at a gravel pit in Millwood. Because her father worked two jobs, he often slept in the car's backseat while Reese drove. Again, the description of "gentle giant" applied.

In written descriptions of Reese, he was described as a big man, known area wide, for his immense strength. In True Detective, a story told of Reese helping a neighbor change a flat tire by lifting the car while a block was put beneath the axle. Also, he didn't need a rope to hold cattle for de-horning. He simply held the neck and that's all that was needed. True Detective pointed out one oddity: Reese and a hound dog often stalked his fields at night.

Clyde Patton's disappearance brought the sheriff back to Reese's farm, but it wasn't the first time authorities had visited. Previously, Reese had been questioned about the disappearance of 58 year old farm hand Lester Melick. While investigating the Melick disappearance, the Knox County sheriff learned that Melick hitched a ride with Reese. During the sheriff's visit to Reese's farm, Reese told the sheriff he had given Melick a ride: all the way to West Virginia. According to True Detective, the sheriff and his deputy found nothing suspicious about Reese's demeanor.

Months later, yet another Knox County resident came up missing. 32 year old Paul Tish, an ex-con, walked away from the Cambridge hospital. While his foster parents worried, the disappearance didn't send up flares.

The Melick and Tish disappearances would remain a mystery until the demise of Clyde Patton.

More on Saturday.

(Source: True Detective, 1954)


Anonymous said...

A friend & I were driving one afternoon looking for bitersweet Found an old house on a hill by what looked like A abandoned gravel pit was so creepy we ran back to our car older ladies at work told what we had probably happend upon. One very scary place,had no idea where we were but it felt horrible..thanks for the story very interesting.

Anonymous said...

I live in Knox County and have a close friend whose grandfather was one of Reeses' victims. I know that Reese is buried in Darling Cemetery in Jefferson Township but cannot find the location of this cemetery. Also I would be interested to know the location of the cemetery that "Mary" is buried at and the location of both of their homes if it is possible. I understand that people may currently live there and I have no intention of distubing them. This kind of stuff really interests me, and it is just harmless curiosity. Any more specific info would be appreciated. If you prefer you can email the info at

Anonymous said...

Clet was my great-half uncle. I am from Coshocton, born and raised. My minister used to have VBS at his family's cottage in Millwood. He was a very good story teller and would tell us the story of "Murder Ridge" when we drove by. As a teenager I drove with my Mom to Apple Valley to visit my Aunt and Uncle and asked my Mom if she ever had heard the story of "Murder Ridge". She replied yes and "that I think you are old enough to know." She went on to explain that Clet was her half-uncle. My great-grandmother had died while in child birth and my great grandfather re-married and woman with a son from a previous marriage. That was Clet.

Anonymous said...

I've been researching my family history for about a year and Cletus Reese came up some time ago.He is in my family tree---just don't know where to place him yet. I have an old article from The Coshocton Tribune that he was at a reese reunion and members of the familly were also there so I can verify that. Als talked to a lady last week who told me her father found the fist body. Her father's name was Moshholder

John Reese

Ray Basham said...

I just finished writing the script for a movie I'm making next year about Cletus. I want to work as much realism about his life into the movie that people kinda feel sorry for him at the end. To me it is a great tragic story. There are several blanks I would love to fill in, such as...Did Cletus go to school? How Long? Did the death of his parents maybe make him so sad that his family sent him for help at the Camridge mental Institutin? Where something happened because acording to what I dug up. He never killed anyone until after his stay at the Cambridge mental institute. Did the snock therapy and drugs mix wrong and made him a killer? Those are my main questions. If anyone can help me fill in the gaps, please do by sending info to me at Thank You!

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