NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A U.S. district judge in the Middle District of Tennessee has ruled a deceased firefighter’s wife should not collect her late husband’s life insurance for the time being because of looming questions about how he died, according to a new court filing.
Jesse Reed was a Metro Nashville firefighter paramedic whose body was discovered in the water near Mason’s Boat Dock in Waverly in March 2018, 12 days after his wife, Mary Ellen, reportedly told investigators their Jeep plunged into the river.
Mary Ellen has never been charged in her husband’s death.
However, this past May, News 2 reported on documents obtained from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, TBI, and the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office alleging Mary Ellen’s story was “inconsistent.”
According to the documents, investigators said Jesse’s body was found half a mile upstream from where the Jeep was retrieved. According to an initial report from the TBI, the car was found with the windows down, doors unlocked, and back hatch open, with no evidence of braking before the vehicle went into the water.
The documents go on to claim Mary Ellen changed her story about whether she took a muscle relaxer that night, and whether her husband was injured and inside the car when it went into the water, according to investigators.
Despite Mary Ellen’s efforts to convince the court to let her collect her late husband’s $200,000 insurance policy payout, a judge ruled a “reasonable finder of fact, viewing all of the facts and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of Mr. and Mrs. Reed as the non-movants, could find that Ellen Reed feloniously and intentionally killed Jesse Reed,” and that she is barred from recovering her late husband’s Death Benefit.
The ruling was a result of a lawsuit initially filed by Jesse Reed’s life insurance company, the Prudential Insurance Company of America, demanding Reed’s parents and Mary Ellen litigate among themselves for the Death Benefit after Mary Ellen reportedly tried to claim the life insurance money.
Mary Ellen responded to the suit in a motion to the court requesting summary judgment, arguing she is entitled to the money because there is no evidence she killed her husband, “much less that she intentionally killed him,” according to her filing.
Reed’s parents, referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Reed in the judge’s ruling, asserted they should be granted summary judgment, citing Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f).
The judge denied both Mary Ellen’s and Mr. and Mrs. Reed’s motions in the new Aug. 4 ruling.
Based on court documents obtained by News 2, Mary Ellen has not been ruled out as a suspect in his death, and she has never been charged.
The TBI declined to comment on the new filing due to the active, ongoing investigation.
News 2 reached out to Mary Ellen’s attorney for comment but had not heard back by the time this article was published.