CLYMER – The body of former Sherburne-Earlville High School Principal Keith Reed Jr., most recently employed as superintendent for the Clymer Central School District, was discovered early Monday morning in the woods behind his Clymer-Sherman road home, allegedly shot multiple times in what the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department has ruled a homicide, pending an autopsy scheduled for today.
The Town of Clymer – located approximately five hours west of Chenango County near to the Pennsylvania border – is a small, rural community with a population of 1,698, according to the 2010 census.
Very little in the way of information has been released as an investigation into the alleged murder continues, although several news outlets – including Jamestown’s Post-Journal – have reported Clymer school officials stating Reed was well-liked throughout the district and that they were shocked and saddened by the news.
Reed had been reported missing since Sunday, according to Chautauqua County District Attorney David Foley, and a missing persons report had been filed after the superintendent failed to appear at a district conference. According to Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace, Reed had no known history of trouble, and such a crime is very disturbing for the small, agricultural community.
“We’re going to be working tirelessly until we can get some answers,” he told the Post-Journal.
The Clymer Central School District released the following statement:
We are saddened to tell you that the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department has informed us this morning that Superintendent Keith Reed, Jr. was found deceased following a search that was initiated last night.
We became concerned that the Superintendent was missing after he did not immediately return phone calls as he typically does.
We express our deepest sympathies to his family and close friends. Grief counselors will be available to assist faculty, students and parents throughout the week.
This unfortunate matter is being handled by the Sheriff's Department and further communications will come from their office.
Sherburne-Earlville Central School District Superintendent Gayle Hellert, who hired Reed in August of 2005, said she also was stunned by the news of the former high school principal’s death.
“We’re just shocked and devastated by the news,” added Hellert, who said the district learned of the news late yesterday. “We’re supporting our children here and we were able to tell our staff before they left.”
In addition, Hellert placed an automated call to the Sherburne-Earlville community last night, she said.
“We certainly wanted the parents to know that we were aware and would be providing support for our upper classmen.”
According to The Evening Sun’s archives, Reed tendered his resignation at S-E in November of 2011 after accepting the superintendent’s position at Clymer. In August of 2008, Reed was seriously injured in an afternoon motorcycle accident on State Route 12 that sent him to the Wilson Medical Center, Syracuse, in critical condition. Hellert said, at that time, Reed had suffered multiple broken bones, cuts, scrapes and lacerations. A coma was induced, scheduled to last for ten days and ultimately lasting more than a month; Reed flat-lined nine times while in intensive care; and his injuries required more than 20 surgeries and hours of physical therapy, according to The Post-Journal.
Said Reed in an Evening Sun interview following his recovery, “I am a different person than I was before ... you gain a new life appreciation. Something like this can hurt and it changes you. You can focus on the pain every day or let it remind you that you made it.”