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Landlord who killed renters, hid bodies at torched house convicted after jury didn’t buy his defense

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A Michigan landlord who shot one tenant dead, then chased down, beat and strangled another before hiding their bodies and deep-cleaning their rental was found guilty of their murders two years later. 

On Friday, a grand jury found Chad Allen Reed, 56, guilty on first- and second-degree murder charges in the October 2020 deaths of Joseph Soule, 34, and his 31-year-old girlfriend Jaclyn Lepird, per the Calhoun County prosecutor’s office. 

Soule and Lepird were reported missing on Oct. 7 that year by friends and family members who hadn’t heard from them; a week later their bodies were recovered, wrapped in plastic and hidden under debris in the bed of a truck in a vacant lot, FOX 17 reported. 

Three days later, before Reed confessed to the murders, the house where they lived and died caught fire – it is unclear how the fire started, and Reed has not been charged in connection with it. Per Law & Crime, police said “someone” had tried to burn the home down five times. 

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Chad Allen Reed

Chad Allen Reed, 56, was found guilty on charges of first- and second-degree murder in the October 2020 killings of renters Jaclyn Lepird, 31, and Joseph Soule, 34. (Calhoun County Jail)

Moreover, a Battle Creek police sergeant testified in court that 911 dispatchers received a call when the couple was still considered missing – the caller said Reed “may have been cleaning out their apartment with Clorox or bleach,” Law & Crime reported.

After the couple’s bodies were recovered, Lepird’s sister Trinity Middleton told WWMT that the fire just added to her family’s anguish.

“The only thing any of us had left of Jackie was her stuff,” Middleton lamented. “I would have given anything to just have one T-shirt that smells like her and that’s gone now, our pieces are gone.”

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203 Post Avenue Battle Creek

The front facade of Chad Reed’s 203 Post Avenue property in Battle Creek, where prosecutors say Lepird and Soule lived and were killed, caught fire about a week after the couple was reported missing. (Google Maps)

Reed, who lived in the house on the floor below the couple, would ultimately call authorities on a police tip line, where prosecutors said he first admitted to the killings – but claimed they were in self-defense, per the outlet. 

Battle Creek Police Sgt. Joel Case testified that Reed claimed Soule pulled a knife on him during an argument on Oct. 7, WWMT reported. After he shot her boyfriend, Reed said, Lepird ran out of their house. He admitted to trying to shoot her before tearing after her on foot, then beating and strangling her to death in their backyard. 

Investigators believe the landlord left their bodies at the property for several days. Then, the victims’ family members began visiting the home. In dashcam footage recorded outside the couple’s 203 Post Ave. home and referenced by Law & Crime, one of their relatives can be heard pointing the house out to police. 

“But I haven’t heard from them. Nobody’s been able to reach them. They haven’t answered me or any of the messages for a couple days,” the family member tells an officer. 

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Jaclyn Lepird

Jaclyn Lepird was allegedly chased into her backyard, beaten and strangled to death by Reed on Oct. 7, 2020 after, the convicted murderer claims, her boyfriend pulled a knife on him. Cocaine and alcohol were found in her system by coroners, per court testimony. (Handout)

Panicked at the attention the house was receiving, Reed told police he loaded the bodies into his truck and parked it in a nearby garage, away from search crews. 

Reed’s public defender, Susan Mladenoff, told jurors that Lepird had a “bad temper” and Soule struggled with substance abuse, trying to bolster Reed’s self-defense claim. Both Lepird and Soule had cocaine and alcohol in their bloodstreams when they died, per medical examiners’ testimony, and were positive for COVID-19 – but neither the drugs nor the virus were responsible for their deaths, the expert clarified.

The couple fought daily, Mladenoff said, there were “rumors of flirting and cheating” and “no one was immune from their rage.” 

Police said there had been ongoing issues reported in the couple’s apartment, including fights over finances and noise issues, per FOX 17.

Drops of blood were ultimately found near the kitchen of the couples’ home, per Law & Crime. A family member testified that he saw pieces of flooring by the trash outside their home when he came looking for the pair. 

Prior to his body being found, medical examiners said, Soule had been dead for at least a day and was in a “moderate state of decomposition.” 

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Joseph Soule

Chris Reed claims Joseph Soule, pictured, pulled a knife out in an Oct. 7, 2020, argument. In response, the landlord said, he shot the tenant. (Joseph Soule on Facebook)

Before confessing to the couple’s murder, Reed had a prior domestic violence charge and two assault charges from 2004. He was found guilty of felony assault with a dangerous weapon in 2005, and pleaded no contest to a charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a child under 13 in 2003, per FOX 17. 

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Reed’s first-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life without parole, as does the second-degree murder charge. However, the latter charge has a potential for parole eligibility. Reed is scheduled for sentencing in Calhoun County Circuit Court on Nov. 30. 

Mladenoff was not immediately available for comment at press time.

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