Jay Soso, 19, yesterday admitted at the High Court in Glasgow that he had carried out the sickening sex attack which ended the life of Marie Reid, 63, at her home in Easter Drylaw Way on November 11, 2010.
Soso met Mrs Reid when he moved into her street with his mother in 2003 and would run errands for his neighbour, who was described as having the health of an 80-year-old.
Speaking to the Evening News, her son, Paul Reid, spoke of the moment his mother’s killer took his hand and offered his condolences just days after his mother’s death, before a DNA trail led police to Soso.
“He was working in the fishmonger and I asked if he knew about my mother,” said Mr Reid.
“He just looked down, shook my hand and said ‘I’m sorry about your mum’.
“To have the audacity to do that shows how sick-minded he is.”
Members of Mrs Reid’s family painted a disturbing picture of Soso, who as a child visited Mrs Reed two to three times a week. She is understood to have treated him “like her grandson”.
In 2008, Soso’s mother took him to live in England, but he moved back to Edinburgh and by 2010 had a job in the fishmonger and lived close to Mrs Reid once again.
He continued to visit her, saying he was checking on how she was. Her family said that she trusted Soso implicitly, even giving him cash to go to the shop for her, or sending him to visit the bank on her behalf.
Mr Reid, who said he first met Soso eight years ago, said that although he was outwardly quiet with people who he had never met, there was another side to the boy who would become a killer.
“If you didn’t know him, you would have said he was quiet, but he did have a temper,” he said. “He used to punch his walls until he burst his hands open.”
Speaking from her home in North Carolina, Mrs Reid’s sister, Francis Brown, told of her encounters with Soso when he was just a young child.
“I visited my sister in 2003, 2004 and 2005. He was just a wee child and was a family friend, but there was something not right,” she said.
“He couldn’t look you in the face. There was something chilling, but it was nothing I could put my finger on. You looked at his face and there was nobody home.
“But I would never have thought anyone would have done this. It’s evil. I’m usually a forgiving person, but this is too much.”
Mrs Reid was found dead, lying in a blood-stained nightie, four days after she was killed by Soso. Friends and family raised the alarm when they had not heard from Mrs Reid.
She was in such poor health that she had been unable to leave her home in the six weeks prior to her death. She suffered from breathlessness and used a walking frame.
Police initially believed she had died of natural causes, but investigated further after her family became suspicious. A postmortem revealed that someone had had sex with Mrs Reid shortly before her death.
The exact cause of her death was unascertained, but pathologists said the rape would have put an additional strain on her heart and lungs and could predispose her to sudden death.
Prosecutor Leanne Cross said: “The deceased was raped on the evening of November 11, 2010. She had died at that time and the rape had made, at the least, a material contribution to the death.”
When quizzed after the body was found, Soso denied having any involvement and it is believed that he maintained the lie to his friends, some of whom believed he was innocent.
He finally admitted culpable homicide yesterday, as Mr Reid, joined by Mrs Reid’s step-daughter, Jacqueline Sanderson, and her husband, Gordon, looked on.
Mr Sanderson said: “He just stood there, cold. He didn’t care about anything. He understood how frail she was. You can only imagine the horror she went through.”
Judge Lady Dorrian deferred sentence on Soso, of Spring Gardens, for background reports and an assessment of the risk he poses to the public until later this month. He was remanded in custody.
Defence QC Brian McConnachie will make his plea in mitigation then.
‘He was a very quiet lad, a bit of a loner’
Norman Smiles was Marie Reid’s “childhood sweetheart” before they met again and became close friends 20 years ago.
He described Mrs Reid as a “colourful woman” who loved a joke, and also spoke of his memories of her killer, Jay Soso.
“When I heard he had pleaded guilty I was relieved, but also angry,” he said. “She should still be here today.”
Mr Smiles, now 64, met Mrs Reid when they were 12-year-olds at school.
“I remember saying ‘I’m going to ask her out’. I was told everyone had been trying to ask her out but she said yes to me,” he said.
The pair became engaged briefly, before Mr Smiles joined the army at 16 and they lost touch. Following a chance meeting, they became friends again.
Mrs Reid, who lived up the road from Mr Smiles, left, would regularly call in to his home for a cup of tea and to reminisce about their school days.
“She introduced me to Jay Soso one time,” he recalls. “He was a very quiet lad, he wouldn’t say boo. He used to come here and cut the grass.
“To me, he was a bit of a loner, but there was no sign at all of something like this. It’s shocked everybody.”
POLICE have praised the courage of Marie Reid’s family during the investigation, following Jay Soso’s guilty plea yesterday.
Speaking outside the High court in Glasgow, Chief Inspector Matt Richards, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: “The circumstances of this case are disturbing and we recognise the alarm that this will cause in the community.
“We hope that today’s guilty plea will achieve some form of closure for Marie’s family, who have shown great courage during what has been a harrowing ordeal for them.”