ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Police: ND man may have helped man dump body of Twin Cities woman

VANDAIS HEIGHTS, Minn.--Authorities say their suspect in the presumed death of a Vadnais Heights woman may have had help disposing of the body from a Fargo man, court records say.

2839668+0B52DXJ0KvwFrZmh2X09xMGFYa00.jpg
The Ramsey County sheriff’s office is seeking the public’s help locating Michelle Lee Newell, 45, of Vadnais Heights. Newell is 5 feet, 5 inches tall, weighs 120 pounds and has long brown hair. Contact the sheriff’s office at 651-266-7320. (Photo courtesy Ramsey County sheriff's office)

VANDAIS HEIGHTS, Minn.-Authorities say their suspect in the presumed death of a Vadnais Heights woman may have had help disposing of the body from a Fargo man, court records say.

The day after Michelle Newell, 45, was last seen or heard from by family and friends Aug. 29, phone records indicate Timothy Barr texted a friend in North Dakota asking for help, according to an application for a search warrant filed this week in Ramsey County District Court.

Despite murder charges being recently dropped against Barr, over jurisdictional concerns, officials with the Ramsey County sheriff's office maintain that the 51-year-old Lakeville man is their main suspect in Newell's death. Their theory is based largely on comments he allegedly made to criminal informants about running over a woman after the two had an argument and other odd behavior after the mother of four went missing. Phone records indicate Newell and Barr communicated Aug. 29 about taking a trip four and a half hours away. The records placed Barr in North Dakota later that night.

Newell's body has not been found. Her friends say that she and Barr were acquaintances who had been spending more time together before she disappeared.

"Please call me right away as I am stuck broke gasless and at Gordy's Travel Plaza off of 94 between Fergus Falls (and) Fargo," read Barr's text message to the friend.

ADVERTISEMENT

It was sent to Steven Lawrence Adelman of Fargo, a man who later described himself to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Cass County sheriff's office as someone who'd known Barr for a long time, the court document said.

During an interview with law enforcement officials Sept. 21, Adelman said he'd seen Barr a couple of weeks earlier when Barr came by his Fargo home seeking gasoline and a jump for his car. He reportedly told him he was in the area with a girlfriend.

Adelman said he didn't ask for the woman's name nor did he see her with Barr, documents say.

Barr left shortly after, Adelman said.

Adelman "failed to cooperate" in future attempts to connect, documents say.

Fast forward to Oct. 17, when the St. Croix County sheriff's office contacted the Ramsey County sheriff's office to tell them about additional information that had come in about Adelman's connection to Newell's disappearance.

Officials said an informant had contacted them and said he'd been with Barr and his sister after Barr had returned from North Dakota, and following Newell's disappearance. He reportedly told the informant that he'd run Newell over and had turned to Adelman for help to dispose of her body. He said it was placed on land "Adelman has control over," according to court documents.

A Ramsey County sheriff's deputy this week requested a court order to search Adelman's cellphone records.

ADVERTISEMENT

The hope is that the records will help narrow the search for Newell's body. The search thus far has largely focused on farmland in North and South Dakota. Authorities have asked the public to search farm buildings or other abandoned properties on rural land in the area for signs of Newell.

"The information sought by this search warrant will provide investigators with Adelman's whereabouts during the time of Newell's disappearance and phone contacts," the search warrant application reads.

Adelman could not be reached for comment. He is not facing any charges in the case.

A spokesman for the Ramsey County sheriff's office declined to comment on the development.

"Since this is part of an ongoing active investigation, there is nothing that anyone can speak about at this time," said Sgt. John Eastman.

Barr remains in jail on charges of fleeing police when officers first tried to arrest him after Newell's disappearance.

He pleaded guilty in October and faces a 19-month sentence for the crime, given his criminal history.

Barr is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 17.

ADVERTISEMENT

Timothy James Barr, 51, of St. Paul was arrested Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016 by St. Paul police on suspicion of murder. Photo courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.
Timothy James Barr, 51, of St. Paul was arrested Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016 by St. Paul police on suspicion of murder. Photo courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.

Related Topics: CRIME
What To Read Next
Mike Clemens, a farmer from Wimbledon, North Dakota, was literally (and figuratively) “blown away,” when his equipment shed collapsed under a snow load.
Volunteers lead lessons on infusing fibers with plant dyes and journaling scientific observations for youth in Crow Wing and Olmsted counties.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.
Qualified Minnesota farmers will receive dollar-for-dollar matching money to purchase farmland.