In December of 1981, a Catholic priest by the name of Father Patrick Ryan was murdered at a hotel in Odessa. The investigation eventually led to the arrest and conviction of a man named James Harry Reyos. In 2021, the Chief of Police became aware of public question as to the guilt of Mr. Reyos. The questions were so compelling that Chief Gerke ordered the Odessa Police Department Special Operations Bureau to conduct a review of the case. During the review, Investigators developed serious questions as to Mr. Reyos' guilt.
Mr. Reyos' conviction was based almost solely on a confession that he provided in New Mexico while he was intoxicated. He later recanted the confession. Furthermore, the investigation did not lead to any other corroborative evidence that substantiated the confession. In fact, the new review of the case revealed evidence that tends to show that Mr. Reyos could not have been present at the crime scene. Fingerprint cards within the original case file revealed latent fingerprints at the crime scene that did not belong to Mr. Reyos. This, coupled with Mr. Reyos's known whereabouts during the murder led the Investigators to believe that another party (or parties) committed this murder.
Based on the facts found during this review, the Odessa Police Department presented their findings to the Ector County District Attorney's Office. The ECDA has completed a thorough investigation as well and have come to much the same results as the Odessa Police Department. Both agencies agree that there is compelling doubt to James Harry Reyos' guilt in this case.
The murder of Father Patrick Ryan has been reopened as a Cold Case Investigation and is assigned to the Cold Case Detective.