By RICK HAYES email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — A relative of an elderly Bonnie woman found dead in her home more than a week ago has been returned to Jefferson County, and faces criminal charges related to the homicide.
Timothy S. Newell, 42, was arrested and taken into custody last Friday in Sweet Springs, Mo., by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. At the time, Newell was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle after taking a station wagon owned by the victim, 84-year-old Rita E. Newell.
Timothy Newell has now been charged with four counts of first-degree murder, Class X felonies. The charges allege the defendant stabbed Rita Newell in the neck with a knife and "struck her about her person, thereby causing the death of Rita Newell, a person 60 years of age or older, and her death resulted from exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty."
Another count alleges the same, except with the wording that "such acts created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to Rita Newell, a person of 60 years of age or older." Both of those charges have a sentence range of 20 years to life, due to aggravating factors of the victim's age and the severity of the beating.
Language in the remaining two counts is virtually the same as the first two counts. The sentence range on those charges is 20 to 60 years in prison.
Timothy Newell was extradited from Missouri on Wednesday and is being held in the Jefferson County Justice Center under $5 million bond. Judge Jo Beth Weber signed the bond information on Friday and Newell was to be served a warrant at the jail.
"He will be advised of the charges against him on Tuesday after the holiday during a video conference," said Jefferson County State's Attorney Doug Hoffman. "At that time, the court will discuss with him his right to counsel and an arraignment date will be scheduled."
An autopsy was conducted on the victim last week, and last week officials investigating the homicide declined to provide information on the cause of death.
The sheriff's office received a report on the afternoon of Oct. 3 that resulted in deputies being dispatched to the Newell residence in the 200 block of West Helkin Drive in Bonnie. Authorities had received a call from out of state to check on the well being of Rita Newell. Authorities discovered her body deceased at the residence.
Law enforcement officials were able to collect enough information to identify Timothy Newell as a suspect in the homicide. Newell is the adopted grandson of the victim.
Timothy Newell was arrested in Missouri with the help of the Sweet Springs, Mo., Police Department and FBI field offices in Las Vegas, Marion and Fairview Heights. Also assisting local police were the Saline County, Mo., Sheriff's Office, Missouri Highway Patrol and the Marshal City Police Department.
Online court records reveal Newell has an extensive criminal record in Kane County. Newell is originally from the Aurora area, but was living with the victim at the time of last week's incident.
The alleged murder last weekend is the first in Jefferson County since the July 2006 slaying of local businessman Randy Farrar. The last murder in Mt. Vernon occurred in May 2011 when cab driver Charles Ellis was gunned down. Four suspects were eventually captured and are awaiting dispositions of their cases.