'She was afraid for her life': Friends remember victim found inside car after multi-county chase

Posted at 5:26 PM, Jan 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-19 17:40:32-05

Warning: The details in this story may be disturbing for some.

A 40-mile chase from Madison to Laurel counties on Wednesday ended in a crash, a man in custody, and the discovery of his girlfriend's body in that car.

Valerie Johnson knew something was wrong when she hadn't heard from her friend, 53-year-old Rachel Carder, of West Virginia, for a couple of days. Then Wednesday, Rachel didn't show up at the bank where she worked. Valerie even posted a public plea on Facebook.

"We were worried sick," she said. "We both knew as the day went on, we knew it wasn't going to be a good outcome."

She says for her and her husband, concern grew to fear that David Reed had something to do with Rachel's disappearance.

"I knew that they had a very volatile relationship; they had problems from the get-go," said Johnson. "And at one point, she was actually afraid for her life. She was telling me she was afraid to leave her apartment."

The story unfolded Wednesday along I-75.

Kentucky State Police say 54-year-old David Reed of St. Petersburg, Florida led police on a chase, starting in Madison County and ending 40 miles down the road in Laurel County, but not before investigators say Reed hit several cruisers.

Reed faces multiple charges, including murder domestic violence, tampering with physical evidence, and abuse of a corpse along with fleeing and evading police, criminal mischief, and wanton endangerment of a police officer.

Now investigators and Rachel's friends are working to uncover just what happened during those final, horrible hours in Kentucky and to make sure David Reed is held accountable.

"And I will do everything I can I will use every ounce of energy I have to see that justice is done," said Johnson. "All she has is me and her friends to be her voice now. And we will do that."

The last time Valerie saw her friend in person, Rachel was showing off the 2016 Lincoln SUV she'd just bought.. the same vehicle police chased down the interstate and then found her body inside.