Pa. police tried to track W MI murder suspect

Shawn Jarrett and Berta Yolanda Reyes

WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — Police in Pennsylvania say that after he was released from prison, they tried to keep tabs on the convicted murderer now accused of raping a Grandville woman and suspected in the murder of a Walker woman.

Shawn Jarrett, 50, is in the Kent County jail on charges of home invasion and sexual assault out of Grandville. Last week, police say, he talked his way into the home of an 85-year-old, then sexually assaulted and robbed her.

Jarrett is also a suspect in the homicide of Berta Yolanda Reyes. Reyes went missing in late April from the Walker greenhouse where she and Jarrett worked. Her body was found in mid-May at a construction site less than a mile away.

While Jarrett is currently a suspect in Reyes’ murder, police said Monday he has not been charged in the case.

This isn’t the first time Jarrett has been accused of assaulting and killing women.

In March of 1982 in the Pennsylvania town of Farrell, Jarrett raped and murdered his 64-year-old neighbor Mary Sposito.

Two months later, he used a ruse to get into another woman’s house in the nearby town of Sharon, Pa. and choked her before being scared off when her daughter arrived home. He was arrested not long after.

He was sentenced to prison, served 30 years, and was released from a facility in Greensburg, Pa. in December 2012.

Because he served the maximum sentence for the 1982 crimes and wasn’t under probation or parole restrictions, and because he was never required to register as a sex offender because of Pennsylvania law when the was convicted, he was free to move about the country without being tracked.

But before Jarrett was let out of prison, Sharon, Pa. Police Chief Mike Menster, who investigated the 1982 crimes, made sure he knew where Jarrett was going and what he was going to do.

“When we interviewed him, he basically had all the right answers. He had a plan. He was going to go live with his mother. He had learned some trades while he was in prison,” Menster said in a Tuesday phone interview with 24 Hour News 8.

Jarrett was suppose to move to Warren, Ohio to live with his parents, but it’s unclear if that ever happened. In April 2013, Sharon police notified officials in Elk Grove, Calif. that Jarrett was moving to town to live with his sister.

“Wherever he moved to, we wanted to be able to contact the law enforcement in that area and advise him that he was there. There were no obligations to do that legally, we felt kind of a moral obligation,” Menster said.

Elk Grove police looked for Jarrett, but found no evidence he was there. That’s because he was in West Michigan. Voting records show Jarrett was in the Grand Rapids area in spring of 2013. Police say he had an acquaintance in the region.

“We notified the California authorities and that the last we heard until we got the call from Walker, Michigan,” Menster said.

That call was from local police not long after Reyes’ body was found. They wanted more information about Jarrett.

“We feel for the victims, and the victims’ families up there in Michigan,” Menster said. “I’m sure … we will continue to share information.”

Meanwhile, the company where Reyes and Jarrett worked says it will change how it will vet potential employees.

Tuesday, Neal Mast & Sons Greenhouses released a statement about the murder and provided information about both Reyes and Jarrett’s employment history.

The company said Reyes had only worked at the greenhouse since early spring through a temp service. Jarrett had worked there for eight months before submitting his two weeks notice.
In the statement, the company said Jarrett’s last day on the job was the day after Reyes disappeared in April.

The company said it was not aware of Jarrett’s criminal history when he was hired at the greenhouse, and it will be making significant changes to its new-hire vetting process.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families during this time of pain and grief,” the company’s statement said, in part. “We pray for continued healing and for justice to be served for their loved ones.”


Full statement from Neal Mast & Son Greenhouses:

“Neal Mast & Son Greenhouses was shocked and deeply saddened by the unfolding events of this past weekend involving the vicious attack of an elderly Grandville woman and subsequent arrest of a former employee, Shawn Jarrett. He has also now been named a suspect in the murder of Ms. Yolanda Reyes, a employee placed at NMG this past spring, through our temporary service.

NMG has been working extensively with the Walker Police Department throughout this investigation.  Mr. Jarrett worked for NMG approximately eight months before submitting his two weeks notice, his last day being the day after Ms. Reyes’s disappearance. We were unaware of his criminal record until it appeared in the news and will be making significant changes in the vetting process of our contract to hire employees. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families during this time of pain and grief. We pray for continued healing and for justice to be served for their loved ones.”

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