By Bruce Mastracchio
The Pawtuxet Valley Daily Times, Aug. 31, headline screamed out:
REYNOLDS PLEADS GUILTY TO FIVE MURDER COUNTS!
CONFESSED SLAYER OF DUSZA FAMILY AWAITING MENTAL TESTS AT CRANSTON PRISON !
Edwin Reynolds, 27, confessed slayer of a family of five (again no mention of unborn baby), today languished in a Providence County jail cell under special guard awaiting the arrival of alienists, who will conduct mental tests.
The emotionless father of three, whose estranged wife described him as a guy “who wouldn’t even kill a chicken,” pleaded guilty to five counts of murder. He was arraigned before district court judge James W. Leighton, in the council chamber of the East Greenwich Town Hall (since razed for a parking lot) on Main Street.
He maintained an icy nonchalance as he stood charged with the slaying of his former friend, his friend’s wife and their three children.
The judge ordered a plea of innocent given as he held the rubber plant worker for a Grand Jury hearing Oct. 23. Reynolds confessed that he beat Dusza to death and then used a chair, axe, rope, silk stocking, necktie and his hands to take the lives of the rest of the family after he learned that Mrs. Dusza told her husband of the affair she was having with Reynolds.
Then, to cover up his crime, he saturated the home, where he was a boarder, with gasoline and turned it into a funeral pyre. HIs capture came when his collie dog led police to his hiding place in a Quonset hut.
His estranged wife, Betty Reynolds, 28, expressed a wish that he never “be turned loose on society again.” She wanted him dead to her children so they would never know the horrible thing their father did.
She said she would stick by her husband to a point but it was also learned she was making plans to move out of East Greenwich to another community.
Still later: DRAMA PACKED COURTROOM EPISODE LASTS 8 MINUTES !
While a curious, but restless crowd gathered around the entrance to the Town Hall (I was there just one week shy of my 8th birthday). As I said I remember my Grandmother Ucci being particularly agitated. My house was down the alley just the other side of the police shed behind the Town Hall. There was a door in one of the stalls that opened up on my backyard. Reynolds stood there, flanked by two police officers, one local, one a state trooper and was brought in to be arraigned on five counts of murder.
In the drama packed courtroom the episode lasted 8 minutes with police and news reporters as witnesses as Judge Leighton read five warrants charging Reynolds with murder. Reynolds pleaded guilty to each count.
When the legal proceedings were complete, Judge Leighton left the courtroom, and cameramen were given time to take pictures of Reynolds standing at the rail flanked by the two police officers. He was still wearing the soiled white T-shirt and dungarees he had on when captured. He calmly leaned against the rail and stared as flashbulbs popped from all corners of the small room. He made no comment and kept the same dead-pan expression throughout the proceedings.
Before he was taken out, police went out and moved the agitated crowd back enough to give a wide path from the courthouse to the waiting cars. Waiting to take the mass murderer to prison to await trial. When Reynolds appeared the crowd shook fists and yelled at him. As he was put into the car the crowd broke and surged around the vehicles. Some to get a peak, and some to scream their thoughts at the killer at least one more time.
Edwin Reynolds was given a life sentence but just a year or so ago, he either died, or was released from prison.
He was 92 years old.
Writer’s note: Interesting things I learned from this story were:
1. The fact that the baby’s death was not noted as another person killed by Reynolds as today it would have been included and he would have been charged with 6 murders.
2. The newspapers back then were a third again wider than today’s paper.
3. Though the headlines were big and multiple this was not spread all over the front page.
4. The reporting was succinct, factual and not sensationalized.
5. I always thought it was Dooser and could never keep straight which was the murderer and which was the family.
Hope you enjoyed the trip back to August 1950.