Falmouth woman shot dead at home

Date Published: 
Wed, 05/11/2005
By AMANDA LEHMERTand KAREN JEFFREY

STAFF WRITERS
FALMOUTH - Shirley Reine, the owner of Five Star Enterprises refuse company, was found shot dead in her garage early yesterday morning.

Reine, 51, had been shot in the head, according to Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe. The garage is on the same property at 657 East Falmouth Highway as three family homes and the business, now at the center of a simmering lawsuit due to go to trial next week.

She was discovered by an employee, and a family member called police around 5:30 a.m., according to Falmouth police.

She was the wife of Melvin Reine, a controversial figure in Falmouth who ran the refuse business for more than 30 years and has been under a cloud since his first wife, Wanda, disappeared in 1971. Now in his mid-70s, he was committed to Taunton State Hospital three years ago with a degenerative neurological disorder.

O'Keefe said yesterday it would be premature to discuss a motive for the crime.

Yesterday, police wanted to interview Shirley Reine's stepsons, Todd Reine and Melvin Reine Jr. They filed a civil suit in 2003 in Barnstable Superior Court against their stepmother alleging that their father was not competent when he signed over his business and property to her. Although police detectives made an appointment to talk with the men yesterday, it was canceled, according to police.

The brothers could not be reached for comment yesterday. Attorneys representing them and Shirley Reine did not return telephone calls.

Falmouth defense attorney Drew Segadelli deflected the question of whether he is representing the Reine brothers.

He admitted speaking with ''members of Melvin Reine's family,'' but declined to say if any of the family had hired him. However, he did emphasize that his clients - the unnamed clients - had nothing to do with Shirley Reine's death.

''I have clients the police are interested in talking with,'' he said in a telephone interview. ''We have some concerns - what's that phrase the police use? 'Persons of interest.' Let's say the police have indicated my clients are persons of interest. Yet, no one has been charged.''

''One only has to look at the Tony Jacketts and Tim Arnolds of this world to recognize how damaging it can be for police to consider you a 'person of interest,'' Segadelli said. ''In the Worthington case, those two fellows got the big hairy eyeball for two years. Their names and reputations were dragged through the mud. I don't want that to happen to my clients.''

Nonetheless, sources close to the investigation said that the Reine brothers talked with Segadelli yesterday and on his advice declined to be interviewed by police.

Segadelli said if necessary he would arrange for his clients to take polygraph tests and be interviewed by police.

Friends and family members calmly watched from behind yellow police tape yesterday as Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene and ballistics experts went in and out of the garage.

Against a backdrop of the compound's gardens and well-pruned hedges, police carried dozens of bags of evidence. Falmouth Animal control removed Reine's dog.

A woman who identified herself as Reine's stepdaughter-in-law said she was ''shocked.''

''It's unreal,'' said the woman, who said she lives in one of the three Reine family homes on the property.

Others in town said Reine was left to deal with the refuse business after her husband was committed. That included closing the illegal landfill operated by Five Star Enterprises on the property along the Backus River. She reached a deal with the Department of Environmental Protection last year.

''She was very nice, very smart,'' said John Boyle, who was one of Reine's competitors when he owned American Refuse.

Shirley Reine moved in with Melvin Reine in 1972, about a year after Wanda Reine mysteriously disappeared, according to court papers.

At the time of his first wife's disappearance, Melvin Reine told police he drove his then 25-year-old wife to the Falmouth bus station to take a trip, according to newspaper clippings. But Wanda Medeiros Reine hasn't been seen since.

''He was supposed to put her on a bus to visit her cousin. He never did. They checked it all out,'' said a relative of Wanda Reine yesterday who did not want to be identified. ''We all want to know, the whole town wants to know what actually happened.''

Roman Medeiros, the detective captain of the Falmouth police and Wanda Reine's brother, did not want to discuss his sister's disappearance yesterday.

Melvin Reine, as well as his two wives, grew up in the tight-knit East Falmouth neighborhood along Route 28, said the relative.

Melvin Reine was surrounded by controversy over the years. In 1980, he was charged with rigging bids for the town of Falmouth rubbish collection contract but was acquitted. In 1998, he was the low bidder for a contract to haul away demolition materials left when Falmouth capped its waste management facility. That is still under investigation by the state attorney general.

While this was going on, he became involved in a series of bizarre public incidents that culminated in him threatening to ''blow the head off'' a woman during a parking dispute in front of a Falmouth convenience store.

The brothers' civil suit provides a glimpse into the family dispute.

They say Shirley Reine used undue influence over her husband to get the business and gain title to four pieces of real estate belonging to a trust that named the sons as sole beneficiaries. They accuse their stepmother of selling off family belongings.

They also claim their father's company operated an illegal dump and illegally disposed of construction debris, contaminating some of the property. They allege this leaves them open to liability.

In the suit, she denied all allegations.

The case was set for trial Monday in Barnstable Superior Court but Shirley Reine's death raises questions whether it will go forward. That could depend on whether she named an executor to her estate or beneficiary of a will. There is no record of a will on file in Barnstable Family and Probate Court.

Shirley Reine's life with Melvin was fraught with controversy from the start.

According to affidavits filed in connection with the suit, she was working for Five Star Enterprises when his first wife disappeared in 1971.

Wanda was never heard from again, nor was her body found ever found.

Friends and family were skeptical that she would run away, leaving behind her two young sons. Police have long theorized that Wanda was killed, but no one has ever been charged.

Within a year of Wanda's disappearance, Shirley moved into Melvin's East Falmouth home, according to affidavits in Superior Court. She helped raise the sons, who also worked in their father's business. She and Melvin Reine married in 1999.

Amanda Lehmert can be reached at alehmert@capecodonline.com. Karen Jeffrey can be reached at kjeffrey@capecodonline.com.

Staff writer George Brennan contributed to this report.

(Published: May 11, 2005)

Article taken from http://www.capecodonline.com/