JEFFERSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is investigating a homicide after they discovered the body of an 84-year-old woman in her home.
Deputies were dispatched to the home on West Helkin Drive in Bonnie, Ill. to check on the well-being of an elderly woman. When they arrived, they say they had to forcibly enter the home and found Rita E. Newell dead inside.
"When they arrived at the residence of course it was secured," said Jefferson County Sheriff Roger Mulch. "We knew the urgency of checking on the individual inside. And we forcibly entered the residence and discovered the body of Rita Newell."
Neighbors living close by had no idea what was going on at the Newell house on Monday evening.
"I got home from work and a deputy came over to my house and asked me a couple of questions," said Barbara Lomax. "I didn't know until the next day what had happened. I was shocked and I still can't believe it."
Jefferson County investigators, Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigators and Jefferson County Coroner were dispatched to the scene. Due to information received at the time of the initial report, the State's Attorney was notified and they got a search warrant.
According to deputies, on October 4 around 11:45 a.m., 42-year-old Timothy S. Newell, from Bonnie, was arrested in Sweet Springs, Mo. He was charged with unlawful possession of stolen or converted vehicle. He is the deceased woman's grandson, according to Sheriff Roger Mulch.
"I met the grandson once just a couple of weeks ago. He came over and asked if I was the one moving in," said Lomax. "He told me his grandmother would want to know who I was because she would bake me cakes and things. Sounded like she was a really nice lady. But I never had the opportunity to meet her yet."
"In this situation even though it's unfortunate we had a homicide. The bright side of the story is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel," said Sheriff Mulch. "We have a suspect in custody. And we have a lot of evidence collected that we think will make for a successful prosecution in the case. And justice will be served."
Newell is currently being held in the Saline County, Mo. jail. A waiver of extradition from Missouri has been processed and Newell will be taken back to Jefferson County, Ill. next week.
The sheriff's office said an autopsy of Rita Newell was performed Friday, Oct. 4 around 1 p.m. and further evidence was collected.
The investigation continues and additional charges are pending.