Neumar ill, misses 3rd court date

Neumar

ALBEMARLE, N.C. --- A December trial date for Betty Neumar, the 78-year-old Augusta woman charged with hiring someone to kill her fourth husband, appeared unlikely Monday after her attorney said she was sick and likely wouldn't be able to travel for months.

 

The sight of TV cameras and reporters at the courthouse in this town of 15,000 elicits one question from the locals: "Is Neumar in court again?"

On Monday the answer was no.

After an official in a packed Stanly County courtroom where Neumar was scheduled to be arraigned called her name but received no reply, Neumar's attorney, Charles Parnell, handed the district attorney a note that said his client was ill.

Neumar, who is out on bond and living in Louisiana, recently underwent a hysterectomy -- a surgery to remove her uterus -- and will not be able to travel for the next eight weeks to 10 weeks, according to Al Gentry, the victim's brother, who spoke with court officials during the hearing.

Neumar was to be arraigned on two additional counts of solicitation of murder, charges that were added by a new indictment in July.

The bullet-riddled body of Harold Gentry was found in 1986 in their rural North Carolina home about 45 miles east of Charlotte.

Neumar was arrested two years ago in Augusta, where she was then living, after a former police officer and a neighbor claimed that she tried to hire them to kill Harold Gentry.

The latest indictment against Neumar alleges that she sought out two more people -- a former police officer and another neighbor -- to kill her husband in the months before his death.

She needed cash and was trying to collect on her husband's $20,000 life insurance, the indictment said.

The Stanly County District Attorney's Office could not say Monday whether a December trial would have to be delayed.

This is the third time since summer that Neumar has missed a court hearing. Both previous times her attorney said she was ill. Neumar finally appeared in court Aug. 16 in a hearing to retain her attorney on the two additional charges.

After Monday's no-show, Al Gentry stood outside the courthouse as television reporters peppered him with questions.

The 65-year-old said that he's tired and frustrated and that after 25 years of pressuring local authorities to reopen his brother's murder case, he's ready for Neumar to face justice.

"I've just about had all I can handle," he said.

Immediately after Neumar's arrest, law enforcement officials from Florida, Ohio and Augusta reopened cases after realizing that Neumar had been married five times and all of her husbands were dead. But charges have been filed only in the Gentry case.

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BACKGROUND: Harold Gentry, Betty Neumar's fourth husband, was found shot to death in their Norwood, N.C., home in July 1986. Nearly 22 years later, Neumar was charged with three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in Gentry's death and came under scrutiny in the deaths of her first child and four other husbands.

DEVELOPMENTS:

May 2008: Richmond County sheriff's deputies take Neumar into custody. Later, they return to her Cambridge Court home in west Augusta to serve a search warrant and seize several items, including an urn containing the ashes of her fifth husband, John Neumar.

June 2008: Neumar is extradited to Stanly County, N.C. More information surfaces about her previous husbands and their deaths, three of which were violent.

July 2008: Authorities indict Neumar on three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

October 2008: Neumar is released from the Stanly County Jail after posting a $300,000 bond.

February 2009: A BBC documentary crew arrives in Augusta and travels to North Carolina and Florida as part of a documentary on Neumar. She conducts her first interview with the media for the program.

June 2009: Her attorneys are reviewing nearly 9,000 pages of discovery related to her case. A trial date has not been set, but officials are hoping for a trial to begin in December.

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