A Doylestown woman shot a pharmaceutical executive in the face and then staged a burglary to cover her tracks, according to court documents released on Friday.
Jennifer Lynn Morrissey, 33, has been charged with criminal homicide and burglary in the Aug. 6 killing of Michael Dennis McNew, a 64-year-old father and grandfather.
Morrissey was also charged with tampering or fabricating evidence and possessing an instrument of crime, according to court documents. Bail was denied. She is being held in Bucks County jail.
McNew and Morrissey had been living together since January 2015. They were not married and the full extent of their relationship is not known at this time, but Morrissey indicated McNew was financially supporting her, investigators said.
"This case took a while to develop," Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said. "We don't always know what the motive is."
McNew’s body was found Aug. 8 after police responded to a 911 call to his Washington Crossing home. A post-mortem examination determined that he died from a single gunshot wound to the head.
No weapons were found near the crime scene, but police recovered shell casings to the right of a chair where McNew’s body was found. The scene was otherwise undisturbed, investigators said.
Phone records obtained during the course of the investigation showed that Morrissey and McNew argued over text message on the evening of Aug. 6 after Morrissey threatened to tell the FBI about Morrissey’s boyfriend.
McNew texted Morrissey that he was boxing up her belongings and putting them into storage for her to pick up. He also texted that she was no longer welcome in his home and that he would “defend” himself is she came over, court records showed.
Morrissey responded with threats of violence.
“Get the gun ready cause I’m coming. I already told you that I’ll be there tonight … guess your [sic] just gonna have to shoot me,” she texted. “I’m gonna stab ya.”
Morrissey told police she had lived with McNew for several months, but that McNew had cause to be threatened by her boyfriend. She also told police she killed McNew accidentally on the night of Aug. 6.
According to Morrissey’s account, she visited McNew on the night of his death with the intent of confronting him. He had a gun and asked the whereabouts of Morrissey’s boyfriend. The two struggled over the gun, but she accidentally shot him in the face after wrestling possession away from McNew, she told police.
Morrissey wrapped up the gun in a bandana and fled the scene. The next day, Morrissey returned to McNew’s house to make the crime scene look like a burglary, she told police.
Investigators later located one rifle and one pistol in the master bedroom, but neither matched the casing found near McNew’s body. He was the registered owner of two firearms, investigators said.
McNew’s adult children told police they had last spoken with their father two days before he was found dead. He had texted with his daughter on the evening of Aug. 6, she told police.
His son told investigators he had last seen Morrissey at the end of July while staying at his father’s house before leaving on his honeymoon. Morrissey and McNew fought during the newlyweds’ visit, McNew's son told police.
One week later, the younger McNew and his wife returned to the Washington Crossing home and noticed that his father’s motorcycle was missing. Morrissey was also missing.
Cellphone records show McNew last used his phone on the night of Aug. 6.
The Bucks County district attorney, police and a New Jersey dive team joined the investigation into McNew’s death last month.
Authorities have not said why a dive team was deployed.
McNew worked for AbbVie, a pharmaceutical company best known for developing the immunosuppressive drug Humira. He grew up in Hagerstown, Maryland, and attended West Virginia University.
Morrissey faced minor charges in the past, including speeding and driving with a revoked or suspended license in 2013 and failing to vaccinate a pet in 2010, according to court records. All prior cases were closed.