‘Dr. Phil Show’ exonerates Jodie Trexler Laird in the 34-year-old unsolved murder of her sister Reesa Trexler
SALISBURY — After 34 years of being suspected as the person who killed her sister, Reesa Dawn Trexler, Jodie Trexler Laird was exonerated Monday by a polygraph examiner on “The Dr. Phil Show.”
Laird, now in her 40s, was just 13 when Reesa, 15, was found stabbed to death at their grandparents’ home. Laird said she had long been labeled a suspect by Salisbury residents and endured decades of gossip about whether she was guilty or innocent.
On June 15, 1984, Reesa’s body was found by her grandfather, Walter “Walt” Monroe. The body was bloodied, naked and lying on the floor of a front bedroom of the North Shaver Street home that he shared with his wife.
He had gone to the grocery store and his wife, to the hair salon. When he returned about an hour later, he discovered his granddaughter had been murdered.
No weapon was ever found at the crime scene, but the blade of a steak knife was embedded in Trexler’s shoulder. No suspect was formally named and no one was ever arrested. Salisbury Police Department detectives are currently reviewing the case.
Laird emailed Dr. Phil McGraw, host of the show, hoping that he could prove once and for all she did not kill her sister. At the end of Monday’s show, Laird was shown taking a polygraph that concluded she was telling the truth, polygraph examiner Jack Trimarco said.
She spoke about her memories of that day, saying she remembered seeing Reesa’s body covered with a blood-soaked sheet. She doesn’t know who covered it but assumed it was their grandfather. She said she and her sister had been at their house with some boys who were friends. They made sandwiches and listened to music.
The boys left. Laird was at their home on Bringle Ferry Road and her sister at some point went to their grandparents’ home, just around the corner.
She said she heard her grandfather scream and looked out to see him coming from the house. He wouldn’t let her inside at first and told her to call an ambulance. Laird said she initially believed something had happened to her grandmother.
“I don’t know why I was made the targeted suspect,” Laird said on the show.
She said detectives asked her if she killed her sister. She said the answer was always no. Detectives collected saliva samples, hair samples and other evidence from Laird. She told the show’s host that she believes she was questioned more than any other member of her family.
She recounted how most of her friends didn’t want to hang out with her after the murder and how she went home from school crying most days.
At one point during the show, Laird insinuated that her mother, Vickie Monroe Oakes, believed she wasn’t telling the truth.
Laird told McGraw that her mother would ask if there was anything she wanted to tell her. Her mother also told Laird she would not get mad about whatever she might say.
McGraw asked Laird why, after all these years, she wanted to come forward. She said she had always wanted to give her side of the story and was prompted to reach out to the show after seeing some negative comments recently on social media about the murder and whether she did it.
Laird said she didn’t have it easy as a teenager and admitted to entering rehab at 15 after abusing drugs and alcohol. She said she was rebellious and angry at the world.
The show also featured Laura Raper Lear, who said she grew up not far from the Trexler family. She said Laird always seemed dark and she knew that she had killed Reesa because one day she overheard Laird say she hated her sister when they were children.
Lear, whose father was a police captain, said Laird was the black sheep of her family. On the day of the funeral, Laird showed no emotion, Raper said.
Lear asked how Laird would’ve known that her sister was stabbed 18 times. Laird said her father had a copy of the autopsy report and that she’d read it. After the polygraph results were read, Lear apologized to Laird.
Danielle Laird, Jodie’s daughter, told McGraw that she, too, endured ill treatment because of who her mother was. She said when she was younger, a friend was supposed to sleep over, but when the parents learned her mother is Jodie Trexler they said their child could not stay.
Beth Davis, who was Reesa Trexler’s best friend, called in while the show was on and said she believed Laird knew something but wasn’t sharing.
“She knows who the killer is,” Davis said.
She wondered why Laird was there to clear her name instead of using the show as a platform to find her sister’s killer.
Davis, who was then known as Beth Hendrix, said later that she believes Dr. Phil wasn’t interested in obtaining any other details. He had no DNA evidence or other physical evidence, and the only people he talked to were Laird and her daughter.
She said she was contacted last fall after the post on social media and believes Laird gave the show her name along with others who could comment. She said the post in question did not mention Laird by name.
Davis said she believes Laird’s motives are questionable.
“She’s had 34 years to address this,” Davis said.
Davis said she doesn’t put much faith in the polygraph exam, noting they are not admissible in court for a reason.
Contacted after the show aired, Laird said she was pleased with the outcome but admitted there were other things she wished had been addressed.
Anyone with information about the Reesa Dawn Trexler murder is encouraged to contact Salisbury Police Detective Travis Shulenburger at 704-638-5333 or Salisbury-Rowan CrimeStoppers at 866-639-5245.