Persistence led to Neumar arrest

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ALBEMARLE, N.C. --- For two decades, Al Gentry begged investigators to take another look at the mystery of who killed his brother, Harold, and left his gunshot-ridden body sprawled on the floor of the home he shared with his wife.

Betty Neumar has been charged with solicitation of murder in the death of one of her husbands.  Special
Special
Betty Neumar has been charged with solicitation of murder in the death of one of her husbands.

He visited the sheriff's office dozens of times and made just as many phone calls. When authorities finally listened, they wound up arresting the person Mr. Gentry had always suspected: his brother's now 76-year-old former wife, who was charged last month with hiring a hit man to gun him down.

"This is something I've been waiting for for a long time," Mr. Gentry said.

But Mr. Gentry's persistence might have led investigators to a far more chilling discovery about Betty Neumar. After arresting her, authorities realized that she had been married five times since the 1950s, and each union ended with the death of her husband.

Authorities say they've notified law enforcement where Ms. Neumar is believed to have lived with the men. No one has said whether the deaths are suspicious, but some officials are reopening the cold cases.

Mr. Gentry had been showing up for years at the sheriff's office and talking to anyone who would listen about the case. His brother's body, with several gunshot wounds, was found in the couple's home July 14, 1986.

Ms. Neumar, who was out of town the day her husband was killed, showed no emotion when she got back, Mr. Gentry said. When she pulled up to the house that was surrounded by flashing lights and filled with police officers, he recalled, she blurted out that she had been in Augusta the previous night -- before he even said a word.

"If she had gotten out of that car with tears in her eyes and asked me why would anybody kill Harold, I would never have suspected her at all," he said.

Harold Gentry met Ms. Neumar -- who was then Betty Sills -- in Florida and they married on Jan. 19, 1968, in Charlton County, Ga., when he was 29 and she was 36. The couple moved to Norwood, about an hour east of Charlotte, in the late 1970s after he retired from the Army after 21 years of service.

At first pleasant, she grew to become "cold" to his brother and family, Al Gentry said. By 1986, the marriage was strained and Harold Gentry was living in a camper in the front yard.

Al Gentry and his brother, Richard, said that after Harold Gentry was killed, Ms. Neumar collected at least $20,000 in life insurance plus other benefits from the military and sold the couple's house and other items. But as recently as a few years ago, bankruptcy records indicate, Ms. Neumar had no income other than a small monthly Social Security check -- but had more than three dozen credit cards and hundreds of thousands in debt. At a hearing earlier this month, prosecutors said she also had at least one overseas bank account.

After Mr. Gentry's death, Ms. Neumar remarried two more times. Once was to 79-year-old John Neumar, who died in October. Authorities in Ms. Neumar's hometown of Augusta are examining the death, and detectives went to her home two weeks ago and seized an urn with his ashes, said Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Peebles.

His cause of death was listed as sepsis -- an illness caused by a bacterial infection of the body's blood and tissues -- and his body was cremated shortly after his death. Lt. Peebles said investigators would test the remains to see whether there "were any other factors that contributed to his death," including whether he was poisoned by arsenic, which can cause sepsis-like symptoms.

The couple were married for about 14 years. They filed for bankruptcy in April 2000, and records show they owed $206,300 on 43 credit cards. They listed $14,355 in assets and had a combined monthly income of about $1,800.

Ms. Neumar was charged with solicitation of murder and is being held on $500,000 bond. She does not yet have an attorney, and a message from The Associated Press given to a jailer went unanswered. Her daughter with Harold Gentry, who also lives in Augusta, declined to comment.

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WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 06/14/08 - 06:06 am
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I hear crickets.....

I hear crickets.....

Marco
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Marco 06/14/08 - 06:21 am
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It took two decades for the

It took two decades for the police to look into the crime, which is a crime in itself. An upcoming book about these blackwidow killers is coming out, including one case in Augusta. Some will be surprised, but not shocked at who the villain is. They should do these ladies a courtesy and allow them to be executed first.

Marco
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Marco 06/14/08 - 06:31 am
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She would have died of old

She would have died of old age, if she did the crimes in Richmond or Columbia County. The locals can't get out of the doughnut shop long enough to read the paper or think this was possible. Is that why she hid and lived in Augusta, she was on her best game and living in the perfect place?

christian134
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christian134 06/14/08 - 06:42 am
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Thank God this evil person is

Thank God this evil person is finally getting her, hopefully, punishment...Now maybe the families will get the needed closure they have long waited for....

fd1962
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fd1962 06/14/08 - 06:47 am
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Altmark, you are painting
Unpublished

Altmark, you are painting with a pretty wide brush there - not exactly a fair comment by any stretch.

curly123053
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curly123053 06/14/08 - 08:26 am
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Glad she never hooked on to

Glad she never hooked on to me !!!

ListenAndLearn
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ListenAndLearn 06/14/08 - 08:58 am
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ATLMARK do you go to the same

ATLMARK do you go to the same donut shops they do? I think that's a fair question.

MtnMan
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MtnMan 06/14/08 - 12:31 pm
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ATLMARK I wonder if you

ATLMARK I wonder if you have ever been arrested or in prison. Those types usually have negative things to say about Law Enforcment.

IZAGAIN
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IZAGAIN 06/14/08 - 03:24 pm
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GOOD DAY ALL, I will start

GOOD DAY ALL,
I will start with blasting, AlLTMARK and any that agree while him/her I really could careless, if you remember you are in the United States where you are innocent until proven guilty am i wrong? Now on to christian134, if I read the article right she has a daughter from this man do you think that she may have had closure I mean she is family too am I wrong? and again I see that the chronicle paints the picture they want you to see if he retired from the military in the 70's I really I could be wrong (but I’m not) she did not collect $20,000 because they just in the last few yrs up the bennies, for those that fight for your right to say what you want to in the paper. Those who fight for your freedoms know that there are some knuckheads out there that are going to take it to the extreme and that is to be expected for back woods folks like (some) around the desusta GA area. Hey MtnMan are you maybe an ex or retired law enforcement agent? Speaking from an semi retired experience you do sound like you were at one at one time? I will end on that note YA'LL THINK ABOUT IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!! AND GET BACK WITH ME ON WON'T CHA'

IZAGAIN
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IZAGAIN 06/14/08 - 03:49 pm
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ALTMARK I must say that I

ALTMARK I must say that I agree with MtnMan, It sounds as if you don't think that RCSD/ CCSO or any of the local PD are worth the powder to blow them to ....any where? I would have thought that you would be all up on the Sheriffs' good side the way you express your self most of the time? I guess you won't be voteing for or for that matter why don't YOU run for SHERIFF if you think YOU CAN DO ANY BETTER. When YOU start to RECIEVE FIRE from a 14-15 y/o that is crackedhead who has just shot your partner or for that matter his parents because he got grounded Then and only Then will you have a right to KNOCK The personnel that work to attempt to keep your ST. and neighborhoods safe, then you come talk to me you my friend have [filtered word] up the wrong rope with this knock of the SO. I can't say that I totally agree but you will NEVER Hear me or any of my family or friends crack on law enforcement as you have done. You are WRONG for this

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