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Murder case rips family apart

December 03, 1997

Murder case rips family apart

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The parents of Jessica Lynn Newell said they were not told of the bond hearing Monday for the family member accused of killing her.

"We would have surely been there to speak out against him," Deborah Newell said Tuesday of the hearing for Michael Allen Newell.

Judge Thomas Steptoe denied a request by Newell's attorney to release him from jail while he awaits possible indictment on charges of kidnapping and murdering the 7-year-old Baker Heights, W.Va., girl.

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Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said Wednesday the hearing had been scheduled, called off and then rescheduled at short notice.

"I wasn't even sure as I walked into the court that it was going to go," she said.

The Newells should have been notified of the hearing, but were not because of the scheduling mix-up, Games-Neely said.

Michael Newell's mother, Janice, and brother, Timothy, testified on his behalf at the hearing.

"They're just standing up for him and forgetting their granddaughter," Deborah Newell said during a tearful telephone interview. She said Michael Newell's parents are not supporting their son David, Jessica's father.

"She wanted him home for Christmas, but my baby won't be home for Christmas," Deborah Newell said.

"My husband and I are in an impossible situation. We loved our granddaughter very much, but that's also my son," Janice Newell said Wednesday.

"I understand my son and daughter-in-law being upset ... as I would be," Janice Newell said.

"As far as them not being notified, I had nothing to do with that. I was notified to come and I did," Janice Newell said of the bond hearing.

Jessica Newell disappeared from Pikeside Bowl on Sept. 18. The girl's body was discovered two days later and her uncle was arrested for the murder on Sept. 22.

"Whoever did it, I would like to see them punished," Janice Newell said. She noted her son has yet to be indicted or tried on any charges.

"There is no family anymore," Deborah Newell said of the rift that has developed since the murder.

"I just wish things could be resolved and our family could be a family," her mother-in-law said.

Deborah and David Newell said they bought Christmas toys for Jessica before she disappeared. "Now we have to shop for just the right flowers to put on her little grave," Deborah Newell said.

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