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Vera Jo Reigle 1986 - 2011

Vera Jo Reigle (1986 - 2011)
Full legal name
Vera Jo Reigle
Last Known Residence
July 11, 1986
March 27, 2011
Vera Jo Reigle of Ohio was born on July 11, 1986, and died at age 24 years old on March 27, 2011.

Vera Reigle's Biography

Family, friend, or fan this Collaborative Biography is for you to show & tell Vera's life so that she is always remembered.
About Vera


On the surface, Vera Jo Reigle was like many other young women. She loved to sing along to country music and hang out with her friends, and she just adored her 17-month-old, blue-eyed daughter, Willadean.

But some of her family, and court and police records, tell a disturbing story of a simple, pretty blonde who suffered almost unspeakable abuse during her 24 years.

It ended only when Vera Jo's body was found, mutilated and abused beyond what can be described here, during the Sunday morning darkness on the CSX railroad tracks near the Blanchard River in Findlay. Two people have been charged.

The damage began years before. Vera Jo was 11 years old when her father raped her, according to court records. Willard E. Reigle Jr. is about halfway through a 20-year sentence at Lima's Allen Correctional Institution.

In 2005, a stranger shoved her off her bicycle, hurting her badly enough to be hospitalized, according to a police report.

In January, someone beat her up, according to a police report. She was taken to the hospital again, but would not press charges, the report said.

Vera Jo was mentally challenged with a deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to police reports and her mother, Verna Messersmith.

Despite low reading and math skills, she took special classes and earned her Findlay High School diploma in 2005.

But Vera Jo never had a job. And she had her baby out of wedlock with a boy six years her junior. She and Zachary Brooks, now 18, had been on-again, off-again for the past five years.

When her mother and stepfather moved away a few years ago, Messersmith said, Vera Jo moved in with the Brooks family. Today, that family lives at 300 Center St., a threadbare, two-story house. A picture window facing the four-lane road features dusty, menacing dolls, including "Chucky" of horror films.

Vera Jo found little peace there, police records show.

Officers were called to the house at least 10 times over two years because of complaints about harassment, threats, child abuse or neglect, fighting, and poor living conditions. Police also went there to escort a social worker inside to check on Vera Jo and baby Willadean.

Officers' reports said the house was "filthy" and "smelled terrible," in part because a pig was living there and defecating in a closet.

On Jan. 21, a woman told police Vera Jo was being held "against her will" and was "not allowed to go outside of the house or be involved with her baby at all," according to a police report.

The woman said the Brooks family kept Vera Jo because she received Social Security disability checks, according to the report, which identified the woman as someone who lived elsewhere.

Officer Marcia Hill investigated and found that Cheri Brooks, mother of Zachary Brooks, was Vera Jo's guardian and payee for her disability checks.

Hill reported that officers saw Vera Jo's face was bruised and cut, and it appeared she had a broken nose. Vera Jo said an ex-boyfriend from Lima hurt her "awhile ago."

An ambulance took her to the hospital and the police report was forwarded to Children's Services.

"She did not, or could not, provide any other details surrounding the event," Hill reported. "She stated she likes it with the Brooks family and that she is 'happy here.'

"I told Vera if she needed any help I could help her," Hill reported. "She insisted she was fine.

"I asked her if she thought this environment was healthy and safe for her and Willadean. She stated she thought it was.

"I pointed out all the hazards I could see with just this room. She looked around the room and said this was all she needed," Hill reported.

During this conversation on Jan. 21, Hill first noticed the pig.

"I turned and looked and there was a pig in the closet. The pig looked as though it may have been young, however, it was fairly large, approximating his weight at 100 pounds," Hill wrote.

"The pig was confined to the closet by a piece of plywood that was about two feet high. The pig had his front legs and head on top of the plywood. It was clear the animal was using the space as a toilet as well," she wrote.

Three days later, police returned with a Children's Services worker.

"When we opened the door, a very foul smell was coming from inside the house," Officer Shawn Nungester reported.

"The house was very dirty and it did not appear that the Brooks family owns a vacuum for the carpets," Nungester wrote.

While there, Nungester said he saw a cockroach on the wall near the front door and another on the floor in front of a television.

The two people charged in Vera Jo's death were at the house last Saturday in the hours before her body was found.

Daniel Bixler, 21, of Tiffin, who was just released from prison March 3, and an unidentified 17-year-old girl from Fostoria were charged with aggravated murder, according to a police press release. The Brooks family identified the 17-year-old as Bixler's girlfriend.

Bixler had been behind bars since July 2008 on burglary, theft and receiving stolen property charges filed in Seneca County.

Cheri Brooks told The Courier she last saw Vera Jo with the couple in the kitchen around 8:30 p.m. Saturday. She said the three later took a walk.

She said when Vera Jo did not come back, she asked someone about her whereabouts and was told, "Oh, don't worry about Vera," that she was with a male friend. It is unclear who told Brooks not to worry.

Later, Brooks said, Bixler and the 17-year-old told family members gruesome details of the killing. Police declined comment when asked if the couple was arrested at the Brooks home. They also declined to comment on a motive, and whether drug use was involved.

Police and prosecutors say they are still investigating.

Vera Jo's mother, Verna Messersmith, now back in Findlay, said the murder suspects abused Vera Jo in the hours before her death and members of the Brooks household knew it.

"Nobody defended her. Nobody tried to stop it because they feared for their lives," Messersmith said.

Messersmith admitted she had been estranged from Vera Jo and had not seen her since September 2009. They occasionally talked by telephone, she said.

"They were talking bad to her, saying I didn't love her and I didn't want her," Messersmith said.

The Brooks and Messersmith families don't get along. Both claim Vera Jo as their own and even argue about her last name.

Messersmith was used in Vera Jo's obituary. Her mother and stepfather handled the funeral arrangements.

The Brooks family wants her to be known as Reigle, her father's name.

Verna Messersmith was upset that Cheri Brooks was called to identify Vera Jo's body, not her, because Vera Jo lived with the Brooks family.

Cheri Brooks said she had lived with them for the past five years, as her son dated her off and on, and she had his baby.

The families are also at odds on whether Bixler is Vera Jo's cousin. The Brooks family says yes and the Messersmiths say no.

There is even some confusion over charges against the unidentified 17-year-old girl.

A Findlay police press release Monday reported that she and Bixler "have been taken into custody for aggravated murder."

But on Friday, Hancock County Prosecutor Mark Miller said the girl has not been charged in Vera Jo's case, but was being held in Seneca County on unrelated charges.

"What charges are appropriate (for the girl) will be determined upon a review of all the evidence," Miller said.

On Friday afternoon, Vera Jo was laid to rest beneath a sunny sky at Knollcrest Gardens near Arcadia.

Later, more than a hundred people gathered at the corner where Clinton Street meets the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. bridge in downtown Findlay to remember her.

They lit white candles and passed the flame to one another. Then they walked up the bridge and released purple balloons just above the railroad trestle where Vera Jo was murdered.

As darkness set in, some went to the tracks and leaned their candles against the trestle, where flowers had already been placed.
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Vera Jo Reigle
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Vera Jo Reigle
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The below was generated. Please share Vera's obituary if available, or write one in your own words to preserve her memory.
Vera Reigle passed away at age 24 years old on March 27, 2011. Vera Jo Reigle of Ohio was born on July 11, 1986.

Average Age & Life Expectancy

Vera Jo Reigle lived 49 years shorter than the average Reigle family member when she died at the age of 24.
The average age of a Reigle family member is 73.

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Through sharing we discover more together. moment please
Vera Jo MESSERSMITH. U will be remembered and little Willadean is safe. The disgusting people all of them will answer to our Lord and there is no forgiveness for those horrible acts. Just rest easy knowing your baby will be safe

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Vera's Family Tree

Vera Jo Reigle Vera Jo Reigle


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1986 - 2011 World Events

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In 1986, in the year that Vera Jo Reigle was born, on January 28th, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch. All seven crew members died. The cause of the explosion was later found to be a failed O-ring. The O-ring failure was due to the unusually cold conditions at Cape Canaveral.

In 1990, at the age of merely 4 years old, Vera was alive when after 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, the leader of the movement to end South African apartheid was released on February 11th 1990.

In 1992, by the time she was only 6 years old, on April 29th, riots began in Los Angeles after the "Rodney King" verdict was issued. Four LAPD officers had been accused of using excessive force (assault) on African-American Rodney King, who had been stopped for drunk driving. The beating had been videotaped. Their acquittal sparked a 6 day riot in Los Angeles.

In 1995, when she was only 9 years old, on October 16th, the Million Man March took place on the National Mall in Washington DC. The March was organized to address "the ills of black communities and call for unity and revitalization of African American communities". An estimated 850,000 people attended.

In 1998, at the age of only 12 years old, Vera was alive when on December 19th, the House of Representatives initiated impeachment charges against U.S. President Bill Clinton. He was subsequently acquitted of these charges by the Senate on February 12th.

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