Margaret Reiley

Reiley, circa 1992; Phillip Whaley in 1996

  • Missing Since 08/15/1992
  • Missing From Syracuse, New York
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 04/04/1962 (62)
  • Age 30 years old
  • Height and Weight 4'11 - 5'0, 90 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A white dress shirt and blue jeans.
  • Medical Conditions Reiley had a drinking problem at the time of her disappearance.
  • Associated Vehicle(s) Blue ten-speed bicycle (accounted for)
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue eyes. Reiley's nickname is Peggy.

Details of Disappearance

Reiley was last seen leaving Tony G's, a bar on Marcellus Street in Syracuse, New York, at approximately midnight on August 15, 1992. She was accompanied by Philip S. Whaley Sr. at the time; they had been drinking at the bar together. She and Whaley knew each other socially, but had never dated. He later said they went in separate directions after leaving the bar, and Reiley rode away on her bicycle.

She has never been heard from again. Her live-in boyfriend reported her as a missing person on August 18. She had not told him or her teenage daughter of any plans to leave, and she left her clothing and identification behind at her apartment in the 400 block of Shonnard Street. She had dropped out of sight before, but had never been gone for longer than a day.

Reiley's blue ten-speed bicycle was located six weeks later, in a storage shed at Whaley's mother's home in Pulaski, New York, forty miles from Syracuse. After the bicycle was found, Whaley changed his story and said he had put Reiley's bicycle in his mother's motor home after they left Tony G's and had started to drive Reiley to her apartment, but she saw a cocaine dealer named "Angel" and asked to be let out so she could buy drugs.

Whaley said he let her out of the motor home a few doors down from her home and kept her bicycle, and he last saw her talking to Angel and another man on the street. Authorities doubted Whaley's account, however, and Reiley's loved ones stated she did not use cocaine. A drop of Reiley's blood was found on a pillow inside Whaley's trailer.

A photo of Whaley is posted with this case summary. He was eventually charged with Reiley's murder and with the murder of another woman, his girlfriend Josephine Chatraw, who disappeared in 1984. He went to trial in 1996. A witness testified that Whaley told him he had shot Reiley twice after she tried to steal his cocaine. He then wrapped her body in blankets and plastic, bound it with duct tape, and dumped the bundle into the Salmon River. Authorities searched the river, but did not uncover any evidence.

Whaley maintained his innocence, but was convicted of both homicides and sentenced to 50 years to life in prison. He was the first person in Onondaga County history to be convicted of murder without the victim's body, and his trial was also the first where DNA evidence was presented.

Whaley, who is still in prison and now in poor health, admitted responsibility for Reiley and Chatraw's deaths in 2011. He said they were not intentional homicides, however. He offered to lead authorities to the bodies, and a search was launched in November.

Authorities looked for Chatraw in a wooded area off Cusson Drive in Amboy, New York, but found nothing and gave up after two days. Whaley said he'd put Reiley's body in a garage next to his mother's home in Pulaski, New York, but the building has since been demolished and investigators believe her remains wound up in a landfill.

Foul play is suspected in Chatraw's and Reiley's disappearances due to the circumstances involved. Their remains may not be recoverable.

Investigating Agency

  • Syracuse Police Department 315-442-5330

Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated November 26, 2011; details of disappearance updated.