North Dakota authorities confirmed Wednesday that human remains found in a farm field there earlier this month belong to Michelle Newell, who went missing from Vadnais Heights in August.
The University of North Dakota forensic pathologist’s office confirmed Wednesday that the remains discovered during a Dec. 2 search in rural Cass County were Newell’s, according to a news release from the Cass County Sheriff’s office, which has worked with Minnesota authorities throughout the case.
The suspect in Newell’s death, Timothy J. Barr, provided information about the location of the remains to Minnesota authorities, who relayed it to North Dakota authorities.
Barr, 51, is charged in Cass County with one count each of felony manslaughter and felony duty (to stop) in an accident involving death or injury.
Hair, teeth and small bones were recovered 5 to 10 feet away from a culvert in a farm field off a “minimum maintenance road,” authorities have said.
Sgt. Steve Gabrielson said Wednesday that authorities conducted another search the day after the remains were found, but did not find anything.
“I am uncertain about another search being conducted,” he said. “At the time of locating Ms. Newell, we had recent precipitation. This hampered the discovery and search. I wish to do whatever I can for the family, to bring Michelle Newell home for a proper burial.”
According to the Cass County charging documents, an informant told Ramsey County authorities that Barr said Newell stole a pound of methamphetamine from him. She hid it in the woods and then hid from Barr. He “accidentally” backed over and killed her as she hid under his car, charges said.
Family members reported Newell missing on Sept. 8, noting that they last had contact with her on Aug. 29. Barr and Newell, who met through a mutual friend, were seen together on a Taco Bell surveillance video in Alexandria, Minn., on Aug. 29.
A man in Wheatland, N.D., saw Newell and Barr on his property about 2 p.m. on Aug. 30.