Visiting nurse found dead in basement of halfway house after appointment with registered sex offender
A visiting nurse who was reported missing Saturday was found dead in a Willimantic basement after an at-home visit with a man who is a registered sex offender.
Michael Carlos Reese, who was living in transitional housing in Willimantic after being released from prison, was being held in custody as a suspect in the nurse’s murder after her belongings were reportedly found in his possession, according to an arrest report affidavit for Reese obtained by the Hartford Courant.
Records show that Reese was arrested at the scene on Saturday after being found leaving the scene of the homicide with a knife and a crack pipe. Officers also found another person’s debit cards, credit card and car keys on him, according to the Willimantic Police Department.
The woman was found dead inside in what the Willimantic police chief Paul M. Hussey called “deeply troubling” and “one of the worst cases I have seen in 27 years in law enforcement.”
She had not been identified and no further information had been released about how she died.
Willimantic police did not return requests for further comment on the case and Connecticut State Police, who have taken over the homicide investigation, said the investigation is still ongoing.
Records show that the woman, who worked as a visiting nurse, had an appointment scheduled with Reese at 8 a.m. Saturday that was supposed to last less than 10 minutes, a person who knew her told police, according to the affidavit.
The appointment was held at Reese’s residence at 106 Chapman Street in Willimantic, known as The Reach House, or Re-Entry Assisted Community Housing.
Reese had been living there since Aug. 2, when he completed a program for high-risk individuals convicted of sexual offenses at the January Center in Uncasville following his release from prison. He was on probation for a conviction of first-degree sexual assault and first-degree assault causing serious injury, along with another conviction for violating probation, according to the affidavit.
Around 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, someone who knew the victim spoke with her as she was headed to her appointment with Reese. She did not hear from her again afterward, and the nurse missed several other appointments she had scheduled for Saturday.
That person checked her location and saw that her cellphone’s GPS was still showing that she was inside the home on Chapman Street. Her phone showed that she was there until 11:42 a.m. when it was no longer able to be located, court records show.
The concerned person told police they had family members check a residence in Brooklyn, Connecticut, but the nurse was not there. Her red Hyundai was not at the Brooklyn address or the Willimantic address, according to the affidavit.
Officers went to the Reach House and tried to contact Reese by knocking on doors and windows, but there was no answer. They contacted his probation officer, who said his court-ordered ankle monitor’s GPS tracker showed he was at the house, court records show.
Later, the probation officer called back to say that they had been alerted that the ankle monitor was being tampered with.
Police said Saturday that they eventually found the nurse’s vehicle at a nearby business and a canine unit tracked a scent from the vehicle to the Willimantic house.
Officers went back to the house and saw Reese leaving the back of the residence and heading toward a nearby bike path. They told him he could not leave and asked if he had any weapons on him, the affidavit said.
Reese reportedly said he had a knife. He took it from his waistband and threw it on the ground at the officer’s request, according to police.
Reese reportedly told officers during a pat down that he also had a glass pipe on him that he’d used to smoke crack. Police searched Reese and found a wooden stick, two debit cards, a credit card and a key to a Hyundai, which is the kind of vehicle the nurse drove.
Court records did not say who the debit and credit cards belonged to, the name on them was redacted, but Reese’s probation officer wrote in a record included in the affidavit that Reese was “a suspect in the murder of his visiting nurse after her belongings were found on his person.”
The nurse’s name was redacted from court records.
Reese was arrested at the scene on Saturday and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and sixth-degree larceny. He was arraigned in court on Monday and was being held in lieu of a $1 million bond, according to court records.
Court records show that Reese was arrested after an incident in 2006 and was convicted the next year. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison, suspended after 17 years with 10 years of probation, for first-degree sexual assault and first-degree assault resulting in serious physical injury.
He was discharged from the Department of Corrections on April 23, 2021. On March 31, 2022, a warrant was issued for his re-arrest for violating his probation by failing to comply with treatment and abusing substances, records show.
He was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison, suspended after six months, according to the affidavit.
In March 2023, he was released again and transitioned to the Reach House, where records said he was supposed to receive case management and help transitioning back into society after his release from prison.
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