Charles Reddish

Oftentimes there are cases that will never be solved until the perpetrator confesses to it. That can happen because the case went cold and has not been looked into again or even simply because there were no leads or evidence left behind, or at least any that was found. Of course in the same respect not every confession that is told to anyone, let alone law enforcement is necessarily true but the good investigators know this and can determine if it is.

On Friday, February 22, 1991, Yeda “Dede” Rosenthal left work and before heading home to her Cherry Hill New Jersey apartment stopped at an ATM to withdraw some money. Later that night she had a few telephone calls. During the night Dede's downstairs neighbor heard a “thump” that woke her up. She also heard the sliding glass door upstairs. It was not clear how long the two had been neighbors but it was reported to be unusual that any sounds were heard. On that Monday Dede, who worked with autistic children, did not report to work and had not called in. By the time no one had heard from her on Wednesday two of her co-workers reported her missing.

Investigators went to Dede's apartment and noticed that there were several newspapers outside her front door and that the door was unlocked. Inside nothing seemed out of order in any way and yet it was odd. Her car was still outside in the parking lot and it appeared that her keys, passport, clothes and luggage were all still in her home. The only thing that was not in the home was Dede.

It is not clear exactly when Dede had moved to New Jersey from her home country of Canada but it does appear she had been there for some time. Dede was apparently dating a man by the name of John Bristol. I could not necessarily determine if he lived in the apartment complex, but he did work there. He would tell investigators that he had last spoken to Dede on Friday night around ten. It does not appear as if the relationship was extremely serious since he was not the one to file the missing person's report. Then again investigators could have thought he did not call because he already knew what happened to Dede.

My research states that Charles Reddish was a maintenance man in the apartment complex at the time of Dede's disappearance. However, I am not sure if that was the correct term of not. I can tell you that the word “maintenance” has changed in meaning over time. In times past it would indicate being a janitor but has evolved into meaning basically the person who fixes things. The reason I know this is because my father went into maintenance when he worked at the post office and I recall my mother and I believing that he was giving up the position he had to become a janitor. He was quick to explain to us that was not what it meant. Regardless of his official position Reddish worked and lived in the complex. He lived with his girlfriend, Rebecca Wertz and her, at the time, ten year old daughter. Of course both Bristol and Reddish were among the people that police interviewed but nothing seemed to pan out. Over the next few years it seemed to Dede's family that little was being done to find out what had happened to her.

It appears that by June of 1992 Reddish may not have still been working at the apartment complex, but he was still with Rebecca. Reddish was arrested for something that was only described as “unrelated” to Dede's disappearance but investigators took the opportunity to question him again in her case. Once again nothing seemed to come from the interview. Between April of 1993 and October of 1995 it was said that Dede's story was told on the popular television show Unsolved Mysteries at least six times.

Then everything changed on October 6, 1995. According to Rebecca's daughter, who was now fourteen, the relationship between Reddish and her mother had never been a good one and she herself had several issues with him. By October Rebecca was planning to leave him and although it does not sound as if it was going to be the first, her daughter believed it would be the last time. Rebecca was supposed to pick her up after school that day and they were going to go live with her grandmother but when she got out to the car Rebecca was not alone. Rebecca's daughter was not sure what was going on but she was not happy to see Reddish there and she let it be known. When the three of them returned home Rebecca and Reddish began arguing. Before it was over Rebecca's daughter was forced to watch as Reddish murdered her mother by brandishing a hatchet and hitting her as many as twenty-five times. When he was done he took Rebecca's daughter and repeatedly sexually assaulted her for several hours. It is not clear exactly what happened after or how Reddish was caught and arrested but he was seemingly quickly as he was in custody on that same day, October 6th. Five days later he would confess to authorities that he was responsible for the disappearance of Dede Rosenthal and give details of what occurred.

The prosecutor in the case against Reddish for the murder of Rebecca Wertz and the sexual assault of her daughter wanted the death penalty and fought hard for it. In December of 1998 Reddish was found guilty on all counts related to that crime. And, while the prosecutor wanted the death penalty the jury decided to give him a sentence of thirty years to life for the murder of Rebecca. He also received a sentence of 25 years to life for the kidnapping (holding against her will) of Rebecca's daughter. The New Jersey Department of corrections show all the charges in which were related to this case but under the several counts of sexual assault and a charge of using a weapon for an unlawful purpose it is unclear what sentence he received. Under the columns for minimum and maximum it says “none.” I can only imagine that it was needless to sentence him in those charges considering he was given what was considered to be two consecutive life terms making him ineligible for parole until he had served fifty-five years.

While prosecutors obviously had Reddish for the crimes against Rebecca and her daughter, it gave them time to consider his confession in the Dede Rosenthal case. Through his confession Reddish had said that he had retrieved a key to the roof of the building. Dede's apartment was on the top floor and according to Reddish he then jumped down to her balcony and entered through her unlocked sliding door. Reddish claims that Dede was sleeping in her bed and he began rummaging through her things but she suddenly woke up. He claims that he smothered her and left her body there until he returned two days later. Although he claims that he left the apartment the same way he entered he claimed that he unlocked the front door so that when he returned he could have easy entrance. When he returned he was toting a painters tarp and a shopping cart. He initially wrapped her body up in the fitted sheet of her bed and then he wrapped it in the tarp he had brought. He then took the top sheet off the bed and pulled the covers up to make the bed appear as if it was made. He then placed her body into Rebecca Wertz's car and drove to a wooded area that was overgrown with vegetation. It is not clear whether he unwrapped the body there because it was mentioned that he went to a dumpster near the apartment complex and dumped the tarp, sheets and a shovel. It was said that after giving his confession to the police he repeated the same story to a reporter for a local newspaper.

In March of 1997 a grand jury indicted him for “knowing or purposeful murder,” felony murder, robbery, burglary, and hindering apprehension. The prosecutor was forced to drop all but the two murder charges because of statue of limitations. It is unclear if other things were dropped at this time or not, at least for a while because he was indicted again in the murder of Dede after he was convicted in the murder of Rebecca and in the assault on her daughter.

What little I was able to discover about Reddish's trial in the case of Dede's murder came from an appeal that was filed in 2004. By the time the case was taken to trial in 2001 Reddish had recanted his confession and was now saying he was “deluded” into thinking he had done it. He claimed that he had used cocaine around the time of the murder but was still apparently claiming innocence. The defense produced some witnesses claiming to have possibly seen Dede alive after the time in which he had allegedly murdered her. One argument the defense attempted to make was the fact that when Dede disappeared not only had the police officers detected an odor in the apartment but they had brought in cadaver dogs who also failed to find anything. The defense argued that if the body had been left in the apartment for those two days decomposing there would have been an odor and it would have still been there when she was reported missing.

Despite the fact that Dede's body was never found it seems the jury felt that not only was there enough evidence to prove Reddish was guilty, but they also felt it was enough to warrant the death penalty on the charge of “knowing and purposeful murder.” Along with that he was given a sentence of life in prison with parole in thirty years for the charge of felony murder and they were to run concurrent from each other, but consecutive with his sentence in the Wertz trial. Now, I have read a lot of appeals papers but this one in 2004 seemed to drag on and on. Maybe that is because really it contained details of two crimes since it was the arrest in the Rebecca Wertz murder that allegedly prompted the confession in the Dede Rosenthal murder. The appeal not only was long, but it seemed rather confusing. What I can say is that it looks as if they reversed his convicted and ordered a new trial, although I am unsure under what grounds they did this. However, the case was obviously not over. What I can tell you is that Reddish is serving a sentence of thirty to sixty years in the death of Dede Rosenthal. Whether that was a result of a new trial or through a plea deal I cannot say.

According to the Department of Corrections when all of the sentences are put in the order in which they are to be served his first chance at parole is in October of 2080. In 2008 he was denied a new trial in Rebecca's case so barring a possible successful appeal sometime in the future, and one that would drastically shorten his sentence, which is highly unlikely, Charles Reddish will only be leave prison upon his death.


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