Pierce County sheriff’s detectives suspect a Spanaway mother of four found dead under mysterious circumstances earlier this week committed suicide.
“We have more work to do and the case is still open, but at this point many things we have confirmed, including a note, a text from her to a friend and past Internet usage and searches, lead us to it being a suicide,” sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Thursday.
Jennifer Reichardt, 28, was found dead Tuesday morning in her home in the 2400 block of 195th Street East. Her four children, ages 1 to 7, were inside the house.
The Medical Examiner’s Officer performed an autopsy on Reichardt’s body Tuesday but has not released a cause or manner of death.
Detectives wrote in an affidavit seeking a search warrant that she was found with a plastic bag tied tightly over her head and that a helium tank was nearby. It is possible to kill oneself by inhaling a high dose of helium.
Reichardt’s husband has been questioned by detectives but not charged or arrested in her death. The couple was in the process of divorcing.
“We are still following up on the estranged husband, but we have been able to verify he was not in the area,” Troyer said.
The man told detectives earlier this week that his wife was suicidal and had been researching ways to kill herself, court records obtained by The News Tribune show.
Detectives wrote in their affidavit that the husband twice before had been arrested for assaulting Reichardt and that there were three “active court orders preventing contact.”
Reichardt had complained in court records that her husband used “extensive methods” to spy on her computer activity, “including using a ‘keystroke logger,’” the affidavit shows.
A neighbor called authorities Tuesday morning and asked them to check on Reichardt. The woman told authorities she grew worried after receiving a text message from Reichardt’s phone that said if Reichardt did not come to the house in 10 minutes to call 911, the affidavit states.
Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the house at 8:37 a.m.
“PCSD units arrived and could not get the children to answer the door after several attempts,” the affidavit states. “All doors were locked from the inside.”
Deputies broke in and found Reichardt dead with her cell phone next to her body.
Detectives later interviewed one of the children.
The girl told them she’d had pizza with her mother and siblings on Monday night. She woke up Tuesday morning to the sounds of her siblings playing, knocked on her mother’s door but got no answer, the affidavit states.
The girl denied her father had been at the home, detectives wrote.
Investigators talked to Reichardt’s husband later that day.
When told his wife was dead, he “immediately stated his wife was suicidal and had made suicide threats and attempts,” detectives wrote.
He also “stated his wife had previously purchased a helium tank for the purposes of killing herself and he had taken it away,” the affidavit states. “(He) stated units should check her Internet browsing history and they would see searches for ways to kill yourself.”
He went on to say he’d spent Monday night at a hotel and went to work at his usual time. Records at his workplace showed he arrived at work Tuesday about 9:30 a.m., the affidavit states.
Detectives asked for his cell phone, and he voluntarily turned it over.