More than 24 years after Lina Reyes Geddes, 37, of Austintown, was reported missing after leaving on a trip, investigators in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Youngstown were able to provide answers about her killing.
Reyes Geddes was found murdered April 20, 1998, alongside a road in a rural area 38 miles north of Lake Powell in Utah.
Detective Sgt. Dave Sweeney of Youngstown and officials with the Utah Department of Public Safety participated in an online news conference Wednesday to explain how cutting-edge science enabled investigators in Utah to conclude that Edward Geddes, Lina’s husband, was responsible for Lina’s death.
Edward Geddes, who died in 2001, was questioned by Youngstown-area police Oct. 23, 1998, about Lina’s disappearance, telling investigators about taking her to Pittsburgh International Airport for a flight to visit family members in her native Mexico.
The distinguished-looking older man described leaving his wife at the airport, having not gone into the terminal with her because their dog was in the car and had not been trained not to have accidents, he told a detective.
The couple lived in Austintown, and Edward was a Youngstown businessman, Sweeney said.
Investigator Brian Davis of the Utah Department of Public Safety gave an explanation of the way a rope that was on Lina’s body was tested with some new technology to produce DNA evidence that narrowed down the field of suspects eventually to one — her husband.
“The only suspect left at this time was … Edward Geddes,” Davis said. “And with those totality of circumstances, he is the only one believed to be involved in her death. And if Edward Geddes were still alive, we would pursue homicide charges in her death against him,” Davis said.
Evans credited the collaboration with Youngstown police and forensic experts in Utah for reaching this point in the investigation 24 years later.
“To have this answer finally after 24 years is incredible,” he said. “And I am just very thankful for all of the things that came together.”
Sweeney explained that one reason the Youngstown Police Department participated in the investigation is because former Youngstown detective Jose Morales Sr. was one of the only Spanish-speaking officers in the area. Morales helped make contact with Lina’s family members in Mexico to help further the investigation after Utah investigators were able to identify her.
Sweeney’s work on the Reyes disappearance, one of the cold cases he has investigated in recent years, helped to identify the body in Utah. Lina died from a gunshot wound and was found bound with a rope.
A detective in Utah posted photos of the dead woman, and Sweeney posted a photo of Lina about the same time, and a person in California discovered they looked alike and reported that to Utah officials.
Davis said being able to provide some closure to Lina’s family by identifying her and then offering some answers as to what happened has been satisfying.
“These cases are very difficult, as I’m sure detective Sweeney can attest. They’re tough. You get a lot more dead ends than when you have success.
“This particular case, I would say in my career, has been the most rewarding. You look at the victim and the family and you do feel a connection to them, and it’s very fulfilling to be one little part of that — to see people come together, people who just really want to do the right thing, and just doing it for the right reasons. It feels really nice to see this kind of closure,” he said.
The Utah Department of Public Safety has photos showing Lina’s sister, Lucero Reyes, coming to Utah to take her sister’s body back to Mexico for burial. It also shows the interview Edward Geddes gave to police.
Sweeney said he does not know how long Edward and Lina were married or how long they lived in the Youngstown area.
He noted that former Austintown police detective Bob Schaeffer also worked on the case, as well as Jennifer Lester of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and agent Mark Bodo with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Sweeney said he and Davis worked on the case over and over on video calls to fit together the pieces.