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The Utterly Brutal Murder of Janett Reyna

[Trigger warning: domestic violence]

Janett Reyna was a beautiful young woman from Oklahoma, USA. She’s a sweet, caring police officer who absolutely loved her job. In 2012, she became the Director of the Domestic Violence Program for the Native American tribes of the region.

Janett was so good at her job that her colleagues looked up to her. She took care of over 60 victims of domestic violence, helping them find shelters, therapy, work, essential resources, etc. People adored her for her kind and cheerful attitude, and they opened up to her almost immediately. She was also so friendly that she’d go above and beyond to help anyone in need.

Janett had a warm family too. She and her long-term partner had three loving children who meant the world to her. Everyone believed Janett had a perfect life, and she deserved only the best.

Little did they know that her life was far from perfect.

Luis Frias

Janett’s long-term partner was Luis Frias.

The two met in college and had an immediate spark. While Janett’s mother was apprehensive about Luis in the beginning, their bond convinced her.

Luis and Janett never married, but they’d lived long enough to qualify as common-law partners. Everyone saw them as the perfect pair. Janett had pictures of her family all over her place. Luis would send her flowers and gifts at her workplace, and he took great care of her when she was pregnant. The two of them were always smiling and having fun.

However, inside the closed doors of her house, Jannet experienced the same pain her victims suffered. And just like most victims, she also kept it to herself.

Janett as a police officer

Back in 2007, Janett applied to be a police officer at the Blackwell Police Department, Oklahoma. She was asked to complete a series of tests before she could join the force.

While Janett passed her tests, the selection committee was concerned about her family life. Both Luis and his mother had a criminal record, albeit being minor offenses. Nevertheless, their records didn’t affect Janett’s scores, and they moved forward with her application.

When officers went to Janett’s house for verification, Luis was super cooperative and excited for Janett. However, as soon as she got the job, his attitude changed. It seemed like he did everything in his power to stop her from joining the force and make her life as difficult as possible.

Very few people knew about Luis’ change in attitude. And those who knew believed that he was jealous of Janett’s growth. Janett was an excellent police officer who took her job seriously. Yet, Luis would complain about her and how she didn’t care for her family. He didn’t want to see Janett grow into an independent, strong woman.

Luis’ interference was so strong that in 2008, Janette resigned from her job. He abused and tortured her so much that Janett took protective orders against him multiple times. But, just like every other manipulating partner, Luis would convince Janett that he had changed, and she would cancel the order. It was a vicious cycle.

It was hard for Janett to process the situation. On one hand, Luis was making her life miserable; on the other hand, he was the father of her children, and she didn’t want to separate them.

Janett as Director of Domestic Violence Department

Eventually, in 2012, almost four years after she left her police job, Janett joined the Department of Domestic Violence. She was proud to help so many women from the Ponca tribe, despite facing the same problem at home.

Now, Luis didn’t like her work because she seemed more independent. He wanted her to only be under his control. So, he hacked into her phone to install spyware and hid tracking devices in her car and office. He also kept breaking into her office to find “information” about her.

Janett didn’t know Luis was tracking her movements. While she found it odd that he always knew where she was, she didn’t realize he was tailing her. However, one day, while cleaning the house, she found discarded boxes of tracking devices, and that was she knew he was keeping tabs on her. Janett then went through her belongings to find and throw those devices away. Yet, she couldn’t come forward to confront him.

Protective Order

By 2013, Janett had had enough. She wanted to get away from Luis, and she took another protective order. Only this time, she stuck to her decision. She found a new apartment and moved in with her children.

Luis didn’t know where she went or if she was even in town. It infuriated him as he was losing control of his family, and he wanted it back. He kept calling Janett, threatening her parents, and using shady methods to find her location. Yet, nothing worked.

A few weeks later, Janett receives a call from Luis’ mother. She called her to ask her if she could meet her grandchildren. It had been a while since she met them, and she missed them. Janett felt sympathetic, and so, she agreed.

Now, this wasn’t new for Janett. She let her children stay with their grandmother regularly to build a relationship. Plus, Luis didn’t stay with his mother, and she thought it was safe.

So, Janett, her colleague, Monique, and the kids went to Luis’ mother’s place. Janett found a parking spot a few blocks away, and they walked the rest of the distance.

Monique saw Janett and the kids go to the apartment. She saw Janett and the grandmother talking to each other in Spanish. Later, Janett bid goodbye to the kids and turned to leave. That was when she heard a scream from inside the apartment.

Luis pulled Janett and the kids into the apartment and slammed the door shut. All of this happened in a split second, and it terrified Monique. Neither she nor Janett knew that Luis was there. It seemed like he and his mother had planned the ambush, and she knew Janett was in trouble.

Panicked, Monique searched for her phone. But it was in the car. So, she ran to the car to pick her phone and called 911. She then scrambled to give them the address since she didn’t know the area well.

All this wasted precious time, time that would cost Janett everything.

The horrific scene

When Monique was trying to get help, a horrific scene was unfolding inside the apartment.

Luis was physically attacking Janett in front of their children. Their 7-year-old daughter realized that her mother was in pain, and she called 911 to ask for help. But before she could get connected to an operator, Luis’ mother cut the call.

Monique was on the call with the 911 operator when she told them that she could no longer hear Janett’s screams. And just as she was about to enter the building, she saw Luis running out of it.

She immediately knew that something was wrong. And when Monique entered the apartment, her worst fears were confirmed.

Even before Monique entered the apartment, she smelled the nauseating scent of blood. And when she entered the house, she saw her friend lying in a pool of blood. The grandmother and the kids weren’t in the room.

Monique started crying hysterically. She was terrified to see her friend like that. Luis’ mother heard her wails and started screaming at her in Spanish. While Monique didn’t understand what she said, she realized that the woman was threatening her. So, she left the building and waited for the police to arrive.

Police Investigation

When the police entered the apartment, they immediately recognized the victim as Janett. The officers knew the former police officer and her problems with her partner.

As the officers came out of the initial shock and started studying at the crime scene, Luis’ mother confessed to the crime. However, the police already knew that Luis was involved in the murder.

The police then found the kids and asked Monique to take care of them. One of the kids told Monique that she wanted to change her clothes because she had wet herself when she saw her father stabbing her mother with a knife.

It turns out that Luis had pulled Janett into the apartment and had stabbed her as many as 41 times. He didn’t care that his kids were witnessing the gory scene. He only wanted to take out his rage on Janett.

Search for Luis

The police were now searching for Luis. They sent word to all the police stations and media houses. They also diligently followed and verified the numerous tips they received.

One tipster told them that Luis was with his family in Enid, Oklahoma, about an hour away from his mother’s house. However, by the time the police reached the place, he was long gone.

The police then found out that Luis had asked his friend to help him leave the state. His friend had dropped him in Wichita, Kansas. However, again, by the time the police reached the location, he was no longer there.

In Kansas, the police received information that Luis boarded a bus headed to west Texas. But, by the time the police found the bus and checked it, he had escaped again. Only this time, the police had no clue when and where he got off.

Justice

While the search for Luis was ongoing, the police tracked down the people who helped him escape. These people, along with Luis’ mother, were charged as accessories to murder.

While Luis’ mother tried to take full responsibility for the crime, the police didn’t buy it. They knew Luis was responsible for the death of Janett Reyna, and she deserved justice. But since the mother helped Luis commit the crime, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Years passed, and the police had no clue about Luis’ whereabouts. The case was turning cold quickly. So, the police added Luis’ details into the US Mashall’s 15 most-wanted fugitives list; and they asked the public to help track him. A $25,000 reward was also announced for reliable information.

However, only after five years, in 2019, when a TV show, ‘In Pursuit,’ covered this story, did they get a reliable tip.

The tipster told the police that Luis was hiding in Mexico under a bogus identity. The police then worked with the Mexican police to extradite Luis to America. He was brought to court handcuffed with Janett’s handcuffs to give a symbolic touch.

In court, Luis didn’t object to the accusations, and he pleaded guilty to the murder of Janett Reyna. He claimed to be sorry for his actions, and it was a moment’s rage that made him commit the crime. He also alleged that he loved Janett and his kids with all his heart.

But, the police, Janett’s family, and the judge had enough of it. They knew he did it for power and control. Janett’s family was given the option of choosing the death penalty trial or life imprisonment. They chose life imprisonment without parole because they didn’t want to relive the horrific moments again.

Luis was charged with the first-degree murder of Janett Reyna. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole and an additional ten years for conspiring with his mother to lure Janett into the apartment. Luis’ mother, though she received 20 years of jail time, was released in six years.

In February 2020, Luis’ mother was released because of:

  • Prison overcrowding
  • Good behavior
  • Active participation in a Christian Substance Abuse Program

Lastly

This story is heartbreaking on so many levels.

Janett Reyna was a wonderful woman who stood up against domestic violence. She understood the plights of these women on an intricate level and could offer them the exact help they needed. Her personal battles probably made her so good at her job.

In this story, Janett’s children are the worst affected. They were forced to go through so much. Their father killing their mother in front of them is just terrible. I can’t imagine the amount of therapy they need to get over the tragedy.

Abusive relationships are common in today’s world. On the outside, everything looks peachy and pleasant. However, on the inside, many men and women go through unspeakable horrors. Even though Janett escaped from Luis’ clutches, it didn’t help her. In fact, that led to her end. So, it’s insensitive for people to assume that everything is fine with something because they escaped a toxic relationship.

While it’s easy to judge and pass on comments that the person could’ve done this and that, it’s certainly not easy to live through it. So, if you have a friend who’s acting weird, please take some time to listen to their problems and offer them help however you can. Chances are, you’ll save an innocent life.

Domestic Violence Distress Signal

Sources:

Originally published on Medium

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