Michigan landlord punished after hiding bodies of renters he claimed he killed in self-defense

A Michigan landlord was sentenced to life in prison on Friday after a jury did not buy his claim that he killed his two tenants – who were shot and strangled to death, respectively – in self-defense. 

Chad Allen Reed, 56, was found guilty in October of second-degree murder in 34-year-old Joseph Soule’s death and first-degree murder in connection with the death of Soule’s girlfriend, 31-year-old Jaclyn Lepird. 

Battle Creek Circuit Court Judge Sarah S. Lincoln ordered Reed to serve life without parole on the first-degree murder charge and – consecutively – 125 years on the second-degree murder charge, per court records reviewed by Fox News Digital. 

“We were very pleased with the decision,” Lepird’s sister Trinity McAllister told FOX 17 in a statement after the sentencing. 

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“I mean, you can’t beat two life sentences. We’ll never have to see him again. We’ll never have to hear about him,” she continued. 

The judge took the treatment of Reed’s victims, the disrespect of their bodies, the impact on their families, Reed’s lack of remorse and his criminal history into account when making her decision, per FOX 17

Previously, court records show that Reed was convicted of felony assault with a dangerous weapon in 2005 and pleaded no contest to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2003 after originally being charged with sexual conduct with an individual under 13, WWMT reported

Reed, who lived downstairs from his tenants in the two-story house in Battle Creek, claims Soule pulled a knife on him during a heated Oct. 7, 2020 argument. 

Reed said he pulled out a gun and shot Soule in self-defense, Calhoun County Detective Sergeant Joel Case told WWMT. 

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“He said they were on the porch and Joey had…he didn’t say what brought any of this up,” Reed’s aunt Lynn Marie Pemberton told police, per the outlet. “He just said they were on the porch, Joey had a knife pointed at him and he pulled a gun and shot him.”

When Lepird tried to run away, Reed gave chase and “pounded” her face, Pemberton said. He first tried to slit her throat and then found something to strangle her with. 

“He said Jackie came through the door and all he could think of was leave no witnesses,” Pemberton told the police. “She ran off the porch, and she ran toward the backyard, and he grabbed the knife off of Joey, and he went and followed her to the backyard, and he shot her again…then he said she wasn’t gone so he hit her in the head with something.”

Reed’s public defender, Susan Mladenoff, argued in court that her client only acted in self-defense, telling jurors Lepird had a “bad temper,” and her boyfriend struggled with substance abuse. 

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Both tenants had cocaine and alcohol in their bloodstreams when they died, per medical examiners’ testimony, and were positive for COVID-19. However, an expert clarified that neither the drugs nor the virus were responsible for their deaths. 

The couple fought daily and there were “rumors of flirting and cheating,” Mladenoff said, and “no one was immune from their rage,” per Law & Crime. Police said there had been ongoing issues reported in the couple’s apartment, including fights over finances and noise issues, per FOX 17.

However, prosecutors emphasized how Reed chased Lepird down because he wanted to eliminate witnesses. 

“He not only shot her, he chased her down,” Calhoun County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Tamara L. Towns told jurors, FOX 17 reported. “He hit her with a metal object. He tried to slit her throat. He then strangled her until a life went out of her.” 

The couple was reported missing after McAllister and other family members had not heard from either tenant for five days. 

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Investigators believe the landlord left their bodies at the property for several days. Then, the victims’ family members began visiting the home. In dashcam footage recorded outside the couple’s 203 Post Ave. home and referenced by Law & Crime, one of their relatives can be heard pointing the house out to police. 

Prosecutors said Reed then took the couple’s bodies, wrapped them in clear plastic and moved them into his truck. He then covered them in debris, a tarp, and a series of large boards and parked the vehicle in a vacant garage roughly a block away. 

When the couple were still considered missing before their bodies were recovered, a Battle Creek police sergeant testified, 911 dispatchers received a call that Reed “may have been cleaning out [the] apartment with Clorox or bleach,” Law & Crime reported. 

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Someone had tried to burn the Battle Creek house down five times, and did so successfully three days after the alleged murders took place. It is unclear how the fires started, and Reed has not been charged in connection with them. 

Drops of blood were later found in the remains of the couple’s kitchen, and a relative looking for them spotted pieces of ripped-up flooring in the trash, per the outlet. 

Lepird’s sister Trinity Middleton said the fire only added to her bereaved family’s anguish.

“The only thing any of us had left of Jackie was her stuff,” Middleton lamented in an interview with WWMT. “I would have given anything to just have one T-shirt that smells like her and that’s gone now, our pieces are gone.”

Reed’s public defender was not immediately available for comment at press time.

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