(KMSP) - A St. Paul, Minnesota, man has been charged with the murder of a Vadnais Heights woman who has been missing since Aug. 29. Authorities are now asking for the public’s help in locating the woman’s remains.
Family members reported Michelle Newell, 45, missing on Sept. 8. She had not been seen or heard from since Aug. 29. One family member told police they had seen her with a man, later identified as 51-year-old Timothy Barr, several times, and a search of her phone records showed she called Barr on Aug. 28.
Barr’s phone records also showed a text exchange with Newell in which the pair discussed going to a location 4 1/2 hours away.
According to the charges, Barr admitted to several people he had accidentally ran over Newell with his vehicle, a 1997 Lincoln Continental, killing her. Several informants told police that Barr told them Newell had stolen methamphetamine from him and hidden it in the woods. When he found out, he dragged her into the woods to retrieve the drugs, but she escaped and hid under his car.
Unable to locate Newell or the drugs, Barr told the informants he got in his car and accidentally drove over Newell, killing her. He said he put her body in the trunk of her car and later disposed of it in a farm building in South Dakota before driving back to the Twin Cities.
Barr was later seen by witnesses, including police officers, using bleach to clean the trunk of his car.
He is charged with two counts of second degree unintentional murder and one count of criminal vehicular homicide.
Police have not yet located a crime scene, Newell or her body.
According to the Ramsey County sheriff’s office, Barr had contact with deputies in Cass County, North Dakota, on Aug. 30 and 31. Authorities believe he headed south through eastern North Dakota and South Dakota before returning to the Twin Cities.
The Cass County and Ramsey County sheriff’s offices are asking residents who live in areas east of Jamestown, North Dakota, and Aberdeen, South Dakota, to check out their buildings and barns for anything suspicious. They are also asking anyone who lives in the Twin Cities metro area that may have relatives or know property owners in these areas to contact them.
Anyone with additional information regarding the case is asked to call the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office at 651-266-7320.