A year later, woman's death remains a mystery

Posted: July 02, 2014

Friends and family of Carol Reiff tied the strings of about 50 purple balloons to running shoes, one a purple Nike, another a white and pink New Balance.

The shoes were symbolic: Reiff loved running. And on Monday, as those who knew her cut the strings and released the balloons into the air, they were hopeful she was looking down.

Reiff, 59, was found dead in June 2013 in a wooded area near her home in the Lakeview Apartments, on Lower Landing Road in Gloucester Township.

A year later, authorities have not declared her death a homicide - partly because of a lack of clues - but are still investigating as if it were. They say a cause of death is undetermined.

Authorities have posted a $20,000 reward for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of a suspect. For Reiff's family, the agonizing search for closure continues.

"We're hoping that people keep it alive until something happens," said Reiff's brother, Rick, 56, of King of Prussia. He gathered Monday with about 60 others to release the balloons outside the Admiral Insurance Co. building in Cherry Hill, where Carol Reiff worked in the finance department.

Her body was found June 24, 2013, three days after her family reported her missing. She had last spoken to family members by telephone four days earlier and had plans to visit her daughter's home in Manahawkin, Ocean County.

In late March, nearly three dozen Gloucester Township police officers searched the wooded area where her body was found and handed out fliers. At the time, Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk said investigators had "gained some additional information, but not enough" to call her death a homicide.

On Monday, Gloucester Township Police Chief Harry Earle said that he could not reveal whether officers had found any clues from the March search. But, he said, "we want to do everything we can and we will continue to do that."

Linda Lemieux, 54, of East Norriton, wept after the balloons were released. She met Reiff 15 years ago while dating one of her brothers. Reiff's death, she said, didn't seem real.

"I still can't even believe it," Lemieux said.

Tracey Howells, 41, of Toms River, N.J., knew Reiff for three years and worked with her at Admiral. She spoke to the gathering of friends and family Monday, voicing her desire to have shared one more laugh, or one more vacation, with Reiff.

"We miss you, Carol," Howells said. "And you will always be in our thoughts until we are together again."


mboren@phillynews.com

856-779-3829 @borenmc

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