Newell family harassed

September 25, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - In addition to suffering a double tragedy with the slaying of their granddaughter and the arrest of their son as a suspect, Mike and Janice Newell have had to deal with harassment.

On Monday a crowd gathered outside their home at 2105 Winchester Avenue as FBI agents and state police executed a search warrant and then brought out their son, Michael Alan Newell, wearing handcuffs and a bulletproof vest.

As he was brought out of the home, some members of the crowd shouted obscenities. One person yelled to police "Why are you protecting him?" When he was put in a West Virginia State Police cruiser, a woman ran up and shook her fist at the cruiser.


Wednesday afternoon Janice Newell said her family had been the target of harassment.

"Yes we are ... Mostly phone calls, people being really nasty," she said.

"There's one woman being very persistent," she said. "I just told her she was the one with the sick mind for harassing people who are innocent and grieving. She didn't say anything after that," Janice said.

"Don't they know how bad we are feeling with losing our granddaughter and then having this happen?" she asked.

The Newell's son Michael, 39, who lived with them, is being held without bond at the Eastern Regional Jail in the bludgeoning death of their 7-year-old granddaughter, Jessica Lynn Newell. She was with her father David at Pikeside Bowl last Thursday when she disappeared. Her body was found in a wooded area near North Mountain on Saturday.

Michael Newell, who lives just down the street from the bowling alley, was reportedly the last person seen with Jessica. About a mile away from the body, police found a plastic bag containing one of her shoes, a bedsheet matching a set at Michael Newell's home and a pack of cigarettes that police said had one of his fingerprints on the wrapper.

"The more horrific a crime is, even if the person is only accused, the more animosity there is," commented Berkeley County Public Defender Aaron Amore. He was appointed by Judge Thomas Steptoe Wednesday to represent Michael Newell, who is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Friday.

"So many people are so quick to judge based on an arrest," he added. He said it is up to the justice system to determine the truth.

"That's why we have this system," Amore said.

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