A Lakeville man was charged with murder Thursday in the death of a woman whose body remains missing.
Timothy J. Barr, 51, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with two counts of second-degree murder without intent and one count of criminal vehicular homicide in the death of Michelle Lee Newell.
“While the whereabouts of her body are still unknown, prosecutors feel they have enough evidence to press charges,” said a news release from the Ramsey County attorney’s office.
Family members reported Newell, 45, of Vadnais Heights, missing on Sept. 8, telling authorities that they last had contact with her on Aug. 29. One witness told authorities that Newell and Barr were occasionally seen together.
Law enforcement officials from three agencies contacted Barr on four occasions after Newell’s disappearance, but it wasn’t until two informants stepped forward that investigators got a break in the case.
Barr allegedly told at least two people that he ran over a woman with his car, a 1997 Lincoln Continental, and used it to dispose of her body, the charges said.
According to the criminal complaint: Authorities searched Newell’s apartment and discovered that she hadn’t packed before leaving. Her phone records showed that she called Barr at 11:15 p.m. on Aug. 28. They also showed that the two exchanged text messages on Aug. 29 discussing travel to a location 4½ hours away. Newell’s phone was in St. Cloud that evening, and then it stopped working.
Barr’s phone was in North Dakota the evening of Aug. 29.
Cass County sheriff’s deputies made contact with Barr about 4:25 p.m. Aug. 31 when someone called about a man, Barr, lying in a ditch near a parked car. Wheaton, N.D., police spoke with Barr 10 minutes later and then at 7:25 p.m. that day for reasons not specified in the charges.
Police made contact with Barr in St. Paul on Sept. 5 when someone called about a man cleaning his car trunk with bleach.
A police informant told authorities on Sept. 17 that Barr had said a woman stole a pound of methamphetamine from him and hid it in the woods. Barr allegedly took the woman to the location but she was either unable or unwilling to retrieve the drugs. The woman hid under Barr’s car, and he ran her over by accident, the complaint said.
Barr allegedly told the informant that he was stopped by police while he had the woman’s body in the trunk for disposal “Up North.”
Police found Barr on Monday, but he fled, and his car was later found abandoned in St. Paul.
Barr allegedly told another informant on Tuesday that he and a woman were going to South Dakota to sell meth to people the woman knew. The woman refused Barr’s sexual advances and hid under his car. Barr accidentally ran her over and disposed of her body in South Dakota, the complaint said.
Police arrested Barr on Tuesday. He declined an interview with police.
Barr’s criminal record includes convictions for drug offenses. He was on conditional release in Dakota County for a domestic assault case at the time of his arrest.