Rocky Mountain News 29.06.1986
Relatives think Dean Reed was murdered
Relatives of pop singer Dean Reed, the Colorado native who had a legion of fans in the communist bloc, say they believe that the singer and the film star was murdered, but that their suspicions have been largely discounted by the East German officials investigating his death.
"My father was murdered. What else could it be?" said Ramona Reed, the expatriate's 18-year-old daughter, who disputes official reports that her father accidentally drowned June 12.
Ramona Reed, Dean Reed's American-born daughter from his first marriage, accuses East German Investigators of purposely bungling the investigation.
"WE DON'T have the evidence because it's all been hushed up," she said, maintaining that as late as last week authorities had yet to interview several people who saw her father the day he was reportedly killed.
Interviewed by phone Wednesday from her father's home near East Berlin, she said the East Germans attempted to have the body cremated 5 days after it was discovered and before the family members were able to identify it at the coroner's office.
Dean Reed's mother, Ruth Anna Brown, who lives in Honolulu, said she, too, suspects foul play. Although she met with East German authorities several times before and after her son's funeral Tuesday, she said they were unable to explain the mysterious circumstances surrounding the case. "I don't like to use that word - murder," said Brown. "I don't want to accuse any one of that... but the whole thing is just strange."
None of the singer's relatives, including his wife and an ex-wife from California, took stock in a news report last week speculating that Reed may have been killed by East German agents because he was planning to return to the United States.
"IT MAKES good reading, but I don't believe it," said Brown. She said it was not secret that her son was homesick for the United States and was planning to resettle in the U.S. in September. "As an American citizen he was always free to come and go as he wanted," she said. "They would have hated to see him go because they love him. He wasn't a spy. He was a singer."
Family members also discounted theories that Reed committed suicide. Although virtually unknown in America, he enjoyed superstar status in Eastern Europe, where he was known as a peacemaker. Lately he had immersed himself in the making of his 19th movie. Friends said he was particularly interested in the project - a joint Soviet and East German government venture dramatizing the U.S. government confrontation with Indians in the early 1970's at Wounded Knee, S. D.
Family and friends alike said it was far more likely that Reed, who sang protest songs about Chile's military government and U.S. support of Nicaraguan rebels, was killed by one of his political enemies.
"They're calling this a tragic accident and that's the hardest thing for us to understand," said Patricia Reed, who was married to Dean Reed from 1964 to 1971, and lives in Los Angeles with their daughter, Ramona.
"When we were living in Argentina, our house was machine gunned and swastikas were painted on the walls," she said. "Our life was threatened so many times, it was never unusual."
PATRICIA REED who returned from East Berlin Wednesday after the funeral said it took several days to persuade authorities to let her visit the body. But she said it was so decomposed it was impossible for her tell whether the singer struggled with anyone before his death.
Samples of water taken from Reed's body also were discarded before investigators had a change to determine whether they had come from a lake where the body was found or some other source, she said.
"At first they said they found him at the bottom of the lake," said Patricia Reed. "Then, when we questioned that, the investigators said the body was floating. They kept changing their story all the time."
East German authorities say Dean Reed, who attended Wheat Ridge High School and studied meteorology at the University of Colorado before seeking fame as a singer, drowned while swimming in Zeuthen Lake, in an area less than a mile from his home. According to the coroner's report, Reed probably drowned on June 12, between 10 p.m. and midnight.
THE SAME night, Reed had failed to meet a friend in Potsdam, a 45-minute drive from East Berlin. His wife - East German actress Renate Blume-Reed - who was the last known person to see him alive, said Reed had called his friend shortly before or after leaving East Berlin and indicated he would reach Potsdam within the next hour.
Police were notified next day that Reed was missing. But it was not until another 2 days that police dogs led authorities to his abandoned car, parked with a slightly damaged fender near a first-aid station at the lake's banks.
His fully clothed body was recovered from the lake 2 days later.
The coroner could find no evidence of heart attack but did find moderate traces of a tranquilizer in the singer's stomach and blood, Patricia Reed said. That struck family members as odd, since he normally took the medication only to help him sleep, she said.
"Why should he take them before he left the house?" said Patricia Reed. "They're saying he became drowsy, swirved a curve and pulled over near the lake and bumped into a tree. Then he supposedly got out of the car and went to the lake to freshen himself and fell in. But Dean is a very good swimmer and all this happened about a mile from the house."
REED'S MOTHER is equally incredulous.
"Police say there is no evidence of foul play and therefore there is no foul play," she said. "I say look further."
American embassy officials in East Berlin said they have talked to investigators on the case and have no reason to believe Reed's death was anything but accidental.
Although several of Reed's relatives have consulted the Embassy, none has formally requested that State Department officials attempt to interview in the investigation, said embassy spokesman Matt Manz.
Renate Blume-Reed said she is bothered by rumors surrounding her husband's death and doubts whether authorities will determine what really happened.
Brown said part of the mystery may be explained simply as "cultural differences" between Americans and East Germans.
"ACCORDING TO the East Germans there is no crime in the DGR (Democratic Republic of East Germany)," she said. It's just a different culture. I'd like that to be brought out because Dean has spent his whole life trying to get us to understand that."
"I could speculate on at least 10 different motives for groups or individuals who would want to perpetuate Dean's death, but I don't think police have completed the investigation yet," said Will Roberts, a friend from Ohio who flew to East Berlin for the funeral.
"Dean always thought he was going to get the bullet that somebody would get him one day. They say this kind of crime is impossible here while we are all quite naturally looking for the smoking gun."
"It's been very confusing for every one... It could end up being a mystery forever."