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Missing Copiah woman found alive, now in jail

The search for a woman missing since April from Copiah County ended Thursday morning in Texas, said Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones.

     Linda Gale Reed, 66, was arrested in Longview, Texas, Thursday and brought back to Mississippi that day, booked into the Copiah County jail and charged with felony embezzlement, Jones said in a Thursday afternoon press conference at Gallman.

     Jones said Reed had been living and working in Longview under her own name, holding a job as a bookkeeper.

     That’s the same job she held at Moore’s Fabrications in Copiah County, where law enforcement now accuse Reed of embezzling more than $20,000.

     Copiah County authorities officially upgraded Reed’s status about a week ago. Rather than a missing person, Reed was wanted for embezzlement, Jones said.

     At the time, authorities confirmed $20,200 was missing from a 2010 petty cash fund Reed had control of at Moore’s Fabrications.

     Thursday, Jones said “absolutely” more than $20,000 is now confirmed missing, but did not release details. He indicated the investigation is ongoing.

     As the investigation continues, more charges may be added, the sheriff said.

     As of Thursday afternoon, Reed’s family hadn’t seen her yet. Jones planned to allow a visit through glass that evening.

     “That’s the least I can do since she’s been missing,” Jones said. “That’s her family.”

     Jones described Reed as in good health and unharmed and he’s glad to have Reed back in Copiah County.

     “It’s a load off our minds,” he said.

     Though she’s in custody, Jones called the latest development of the case good news for Reed’s family.

     “It’s a good thing for the sheriff’s office to find her, even if she’s charged, because she is not deceased,” Jones said.

     Reed’s initial court appearance in Copiah County could come as early as Friday, depending on how questioning of her proceeds early Friday.

     Jones said his department developed the lead that Reed was in Texas and, in concert with Texas authorities, confirmed her location. Gregg County, Texas, authorities placed Reed under surveillance as Jones and Investigator Jeremy Thornton left Copiah County about 8 p.m. Wednesday.

     Thursday morning, Jones, Thornton and Gregg County authorities waited for Reed outside her residence in Longview, reportedly on Timberline Drive.

     “We watched her come out of the house,” Jones said. “She started coming toward us.”

     Reed got into a vehicle and was subsequently pulled over by authorities and taken into custody. She was brought before a magistrate in Texas about 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

     “She signed her extradition and we brought her back,” Jones said.

     Jones described the home she was living in as a “brand new” duplex in the old part of town and reported her as living alone.

     Reed seems to have been in Texas about five months, Jones said, but he didn’t know how long she had been employed. He declined to name her employer.

     Texas authorities will investigate the possibility of further wrongdoing by Reed since she’s been in Longview, Jones said.

     An investigation into the money authorities allege Reed embezzled from Moore’s is ongoing.

     “We found some money on her, but not the amount we said she left with,” Jones said.

     Reed, whose permanent residence was in Carrollton, worked in Copiah County and was reported missing April 30 after she failed to report for work.

     Searchers found her car and some personal belongings abandoned on a back road near Crystal Springs.

     Jones said he’s had suspicions about the case almost from the beginning.

     “From day one, we did not think she had been abducted,” Jones said.

     Following these suspicions can take time, though.

     “It’s a long, tedious process,” Jones said.