ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – A Maryland Eastern Shore judge who was about to be arrested at his home on federal child sexual exploitation charges was found dead on Friday, officials said.
FBI agents attended the residence of Caroline County Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Newell in Henderson, Md., Early Friday.
“Upon entering the residence, officers found Newell suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” said a joint statement from Acting US Attorney Jonathan Lenzner and other officials. “He was pronounced dead at 6:43 am. Maryland State Police will investigate the apparent suicide.”
According to an unsealed federal affidavit on Friday, Maryland State Police investigators responded to a cabin in Fishing Creek, Maryland, on Hoopers Island on July 23 after a minor found a video camera in the room bath, took a picture of her on her phone and called her parents. Police arrived and questioned two minors. One of the miners said the two spent the night in the cabin, along with a man and four other boys.
Investigators questioned Newell in the cabin the same day, according to the affidavit. The 50-year-old judge waived his rights to Miranda and agreed to be questioned. Newell told police that 10 “members” had access to the cabin who “came and went.” Newell also denied placing a camera in the bathroom, according to the affidavit.
According to the affidavit, Newell went to his room after the interview to plug in his cell phone and make calls. Investigators observed him walk under his bed and place his fist up to his mouth. Investigators suspected Newell of ingesting evidence because a memory card from a box containing a camera appeared to have gone missing. He was taken to hospital for CT scans, which showed he had ingested a metal object, according to the affidavit.
Authorities executed search warrants in Newell’s cabin, truck, boat and office and seized numerous digital devices. Investigators found a hard drive in a safe at Newell’s residence that showed videos of boys showering, according to the affidavit.
“In some of the videos, Newell is seen installing the camera in the bathroom,” the affidavit said.
The FBI interviewed several young people who said they had been in the cabin with Newell and had checked their naked bodies for ticks while he was in the bathroom.
Newell had been on leave for over a month. He had been a judge since 2016. Prior to that, he had been a county prosecutor since 2003.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call National lifeline for suicide prevention at 800-273-8255, text HOME at 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/ressources for additional resources.