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Charges Upheld in August Slaying of Washington Crossing Man

November 6, 2017

Contact: Christopher W. Rees, 215.348.6341, cwrees@buckscounty.org

Jennifer Morrissey 
     Jennifer Morrissey

A 33-year-old woman accused of intentionally shooting to death a 64-year-old man she called her “sugar daddy” was ordered held for trial today on all charges.

At a preliminary hearing this afternoon in Newtown, Magisterial District Judge Michael W. Petrucci found sufficient evidence to send the case against Jennifer Morrissey, 33, to Common Pleas Court.

Petrucci scheduled Morrissey to be arraigned Dec. 8 on charges of criminal homicide, burglary, possessing instruments of crime and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence in the Aug. 6 death of Michael McNew.

McNew was found in a chair Aug. 8 inside his home along the Delaware River in Washington Crossing, dead of a bullet wound to the head. He had been shot once in the face, an autopsy determined.

Morrissey, who was charged Sept. 29, is being held without bail at the Bucks County Correctional Facility.

Prosecutors allege that Morrissey, who had shared McNew’s house for at least two years, was being evicted after the two had a falling out. She went to his house against McNew’s wishes and, after sending a flurry of threatening text messages en route, shot him to death with McNew’s own handgun, a probable cause affidavit states.

After the shooting, while incarcerated at the county prison for an unrelated matter, Morrissey told a cellmate that she had killed McNew accidentally, Bucks County Detective Eric Landamia testified today.

The cellmate said that Morrissey, who referred to McNew as “my sugar daddy,” said she had knocked McNew’s gun from his hand when he brandished it, Landamia testified. Morrissey maintained that she struggled with McNew for control of the gun, pushed him into a chair and accidentally shot him while trying to unload the weapon, the detective testified.

The cellmate told police that Morrissey told of returning to the house after the shooting and trying to make it look like a robbery scene by turning McNew’s pockets inside-out and stealing his gun, phone and laptop computer, according to Landamia. He said those details were not public knowledge at the time the cellmates spoke.

Hours after McNew was dead, Landamia said, Morrissey further tried to conceal her role by sending two innocuous messages to the victim via Facebook Messenger. One mentioned some new colors she was considering for her motorcycle; the other asked how a recent doctor’s visit had gone.

Calling McNew’s death “a terrible, terrible tragedy,” defense attorney S. Philip Steinberg argued that the cellmate’s account “describes an accidental shooting,” not a murder.

Deputy District Attorney Christopher W. Rees argued that the evidence points to an intentional shooting by Morrissey and a subsequent cover-up.

“By her own admission, she killed this man,” Rees said. “She did so with the requisite intent to show that she murdered him.”

McNew “was going to cut her off” financially, Rees said, and said he was giving information to the FBI about her new boyfriend. The prosecutor then quoted liberally from a string of profane and threatening text messages sent by Morrissey to McNew as she drove to his home, telling the victim she was going to “stab ya” and “gut you like I’m field dressing a [expletive] deer.”

Her failure to report the shooting to anyone and her efforts to make it appear McNew died in a robbery further undermine her defense and underscore her guilt, Rees argued.

“Judge, people don’t try to stage the scene of self-defense,” Rees said. “They try to stage the scene in a murder.”

The case is being investigated by the Upper Makefield Township Police Department and the Bucks County Detectives, and is being prosecuted by Rees and Assistant District Attorney Rose E. McHugh.

Approved for release by Thomas C. Gannon, Deputy District Attorney.




Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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