Free on bond, Neumar awaits trial

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One year ago today, Richmond County Sheriff's Investigator Josh Faison led a slight, white-haired grandmother down the steps of her west Augusta home and into a police car.

He didn't know it at the time, but the woman who politely cooperated that day soon would be under scrutiny in the deaths of five former husbands -- gaining a Black Widow nickname and attracting international media attention.

"She was calm, not excited or anything," said Investigator Faison, who led Betty Neumar, then 76, away from her Cambridge Court home without handcuffs. "We told her some people from North Carolina wanted to talk to her, and she said, 'Sure.' "

Ms. Neumar -- now free on bond -- is charged with three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder, accused of trying to hire three different people to kill her fourth husband, Harold Gentry, in the 1980s.

The case has been moving through the system for 12 months, but it's likely to be some time before a trial date is set, according to Stanly County, N.C., authorities.

Ms. Neumar's attorney, Charles Parnell, said in a telephone interview that he is going through nearly 9,000 pages of discovery documents related to his client's case. He said the next step is for the state to finish with its case and set the trial date.

He would not say where Ms. Neumar is, but did say she's doing "OK," adjusting to the media attention.

"Considering all things, she's just doing what she's got to do, as far as adapting to whatever she needs to do," he said. "I'm sure it's tough."

Ginger Efrid, of the Stanly County District Attorney's Office, said the case is still pending.

"I don't know at this point when a trial date will be set on it," Ms. Efrid said this week.

The bullet-riddled body of Mr. Gentry, Ms. Neumar's fourth husband, was found in 1986 in their rural North Carolina home about 45 miles east of Charlotte. Last July's indictment against Ms. Neumar alleged she sought out a former police officer and her 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 case was reopened last year after two decades of pleading from Al Gentry, her dead husband's brother.

After her arrest, authorities in Ohio, Florida and Augusta re-examined the deaths of her first child and the other four of her five husbands.

Richmond County investigators seized the ashes of her fifth husband, John Neumar, from their home in Augusta on May 30. They had the ashes examined for traces of arsenic, which authorities believed could have been a factor in Mr. Neumar's death. The tests were negative.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

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TIMELINE

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, Ms. Neumar was charged with three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in Mr. Gentry's death and came under scrutiny in the deaths of her first child and four other husbands. A look at the events of the past year:

MAY 2008: Richmond County Sheriff's deputies take Ms. 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: Ms. 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 Ms. Neumar on three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

OCTOBER 2008: Ms. 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 Ms. Neumar. She conducts her first interview with the press for their program.

MAY 2009: Her attorneys are reviewing nearly 9,000 pages of discovery related to her case. A trial date has not been set.

HUSBANDS

All five of Ms. Neumar's husbands have died; three deaths involved guns.

1. Clarence Malone: They married in 1950. He was shot to death in 1970, many years after the two divorced.

2. James Flynn: Supposedly died on a New York City pier in 1955. The details of his death are unclear.

3. Richard Sills: Committed suicide with a shotgun in Florida in 1965. Reports have said that Ms. Neumar claims to have been in the room with him at the time.

4. Harold Gentry: Died from multiple gunshot wounds in his Norwood, N.C., home in 1986. Ms. Neumar was reportedly in Augusta at the time of the shooting.

5. John Neumar: Died of sepsis, an illness caused by a bacterial infection of the body's blood and tissues, at the Downtown Division of the Augusta Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in October 2007. He was 79.

Sources: augustaarchives.com; Associated Press

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justus4
132
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justus4 05/21/09 - 04:13 am
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How many other possible
Unpublished

How many other possible killers are out there? The suspect appears to have operated at-will without a care of being caught. What was her secret weapon? How did she fool the professional, always-accurate, SWAT team trained, law enforcement establishments? The answer is right in your face.

treerock
0
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treerock 05/21/09 - 05:47 am
0
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kill all white people!

kill all white people!

treerock
0
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treerock 05/21/09 - 05:53 am
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before they kill you.

before they kill you.

cparker
91
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cparker 05/21/09 - 06:26 am
0
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It is foolish to say kill all

It is foolish to say kill all white people... We all have to admit that for the police to have 9,000 pages of evidence against this woman, she shouldn't be out free on bond. It seems crazy to use the victims money to free yourself from punishment. The law is not quite that understanding to many people suspected of what she did.

colcamp1
10
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colcamp1 05/21/09 - 07:02 am
0
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Some comments are not worthy

Some comments are not worthy of response.

treerock
0
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treerock 05/21/09 - 07:10 am
0
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what's foolish is to

what's foolish is to insinuate that she evaded prosecution for so long because she is white.

mieshel
3
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mieshel 05/21/09 - 07:27 am
0
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she did it,,,

she did it,,,

WW1949
24
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WW1949 05/21/09 - 08:05 am
0
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justus, your inference is

justus, your inference is just not right. Had another person said that you would be all up in arms. 22 years is a long time and takes a long time to gather evidence. It is not your plain Saturday night cutting or shooting where the suspect is caught right away.

drumbeater1
1
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drumbeater1 05/21/09 - 08:06 am
0
0
justus4...why don't you run

justus4...why don't you run over and propose to her....with any luck.......

AAQueen
18
Points
AAQueen 05/21/09 - 09:06 am
0
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I see Justus has you all up

I see Justus has you all up in arms again. Way to start off the morning. I agree that she shouldn't be free on bail. Lets hope she doesn't get married again.

themaninthemirror
0
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themaninthemirror 05/21/09 - 09:28 am
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I believe justus4 himself is

I believe justus4 himself is a white man and just likes to stir people up. We are talking about a DA's office in another state that granted this woman bond. However, I do agree that given the circumstances, she should be treated as any other accused multiple merderer would. To have had five husbands who all died, does seem a bit strange. This woman seems to be a psychopath and should spend whatever time she has left on this earth behind bars.

corgimom
55843
Points
corgimom 05/21/09 - 11:47 am
0
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Drumbeater, that is downright

Drumbeater, that is downright FUNNY!!!!

ca evans
0
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ca evans 05/21/09 - 01:08 pm
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How many times is the

How many times is the Chronicle going to run this lady's picture???????? JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZ!! You've gotten your money's worth out of that mugshot!

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