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Crime

Daughter Shares Heartbreak After Her Newlywed Mom Vanishes — Then Stepdad Kills Himself

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Savanah Ringer holds out hope that she’ll one day hear from her mother, Jo, who disappeared more than four months ago from her Massachusetts home — but she knows the chances are growing slimmer.

“There’s no closure because we don’t know where she is,” Savanah, 19, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on newsstands now. “She’s still missing.”

On March 4, Savanah’s stepfather, Chad Reidy reported 39-year-old Jo missing — 48 hours after he said he had last seen her.

He told investigators he spent the day before driving through their hometown of Clarksburg, Massachusetts, looking for his wife of just over two months. He drove through neighboring towns, he said, scanning for skid marks veering off the winding roadways.

“He didn’t call me, my family or anyone,” Savanah says about Reidy, 42. She found out her mother had vanished when he contacted investigators.

• For more on the mysterious disappearance of Jo Ringer, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands now.

Jo Ringer (left) and daughter Savanah
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From left: Chad Reidy and Jo Ringer
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When Savanah met Reidy during his whirlwind courtship of her mother, she says he “seemed nice” and didn’t have any cause for concern. But as investigators began to interview Jo’s friends and family, they quickly learned the couple’s relationship wasn’t as blissful as it appeared.

In a chilling twist, investigators learned that Jo told one of her friends, “If anything ever happens to me, don’t underestimate Chad — because it was probably him.”

On April 7, days after Reidy underwent a preliminary polygraph screening in advance of a lie detector test, he was found dead in his garage in an apparent suicide.

Days later, his high school sweetheart Laura Reilly was charged with three counts of misleading a police officer after she was seen in surveillance footage with Reidy on March 2, two days before he reported his wife missing.

Reilly pleaded not guilty to the charges and her attorney, Jesse Adams, said in a statement to PEOPLE that “Ms. Reilly had nothing to do with the disappearance of Jo Ringer.”

Court documents state there is “probable cause [Jo] Ringer is a victim of homicide.”

Savanah Ringer (left) at a March vigil for her mother, Jo Ringer, who vanished earlier this year

Savanah, Jo’s only child, isn’t sure Reilly has told investigators everything she knows. She said she went through her mother’s Facebook messages and discovered accusations of abuse against Reidy and of an off-and-on affair with Reilly.

“I think Chad and Laura have been seeing each other,” Savanah says. “I think they might have been wanting to get back together.”

For now, Savanah has to wait. With her stepfather dead and her mother missing, she doesn’t know if she’ll ever find out what happened to the woman she describes as outdoorsy and outgoing.

“I hope that I hear from her,” Savanah says. “The logical part of me knows that I won’t. But the human part of me hopes every day that she’s going to call my phone or she’ll show up at my doorstep.”