A Maryland judge shot himself dead on Friday morning as police arrived to arrest him on allegations of child sexual abuse, including filming teenagers in the shower of his hunting cabin.
Jonathan Newell, 50, had been on leave since July, after a young boy told his parents about finding a hidden camera in the shower at Newell’s fishing cabin, where he had been staying.
An investigation was launched and digital devices seized containing footage of young boys – but the footage was not all confiscated before Newell could eat one of the memory cards, which was later identified in his stomach.
Footage of the teenage boys showering dated back to September 2014, and in one clip Newell can be seen touching the naked body of a young man and spreading his buttocks in what he told them was a search for ticks.
On Friday morning, officers arrived at his home in Henderson, 70 miles east of Baltimore.
‘Upon entering the residence the agents found Newell suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound,’ said Jonathan Lenzner, Acting Maryland U.S. Attorney.
‘He was pronounced dead at 6:43 a.m.
‘Maryland State Police will lead the investigation into the apparent suicide.’
Jonathan Newell, 50, shot and killed himself on Friday morning as police moved to arrest him
A neighbor, Kimberly Maddison Keith, posted photos of the scene on Facebook.
She wrote: ‘Wow it’s happening finally… at 6:10 this morning the FBI were shouting at the Judges house to come out over loud speaker.
‘After multiple attempts we heard a flash bang and them going in. And then what we believe could have been to 2 more gunshots.
‘Now a ambo and more cop cars. Pretty sure he not coming out alive. Ambo just left! Heard through grape vine a bullet to the head!
‘I feel so so sorry for his family who are not home thank god, but his dogs were out in the yard!’
Kimberly Maddison Keith, who lived near Newell, posted photos of the scene early Friday
Newell, a federal judge since 2016 and the county state attorney from 2003, was reported to police by concerned parents.
Two young boys spent the night at Newell’s cabin in Fishing Creek, Maryland – 70 miles south of Newell’s home.
One of the boys told his parents that he had found a hidden video camera.
He also said that an adult man and four other boys had stayed at the house too, and left early in the morning.
Police searched the property and found several video cameras, in the showers.
They spoke to seven teenagers, born between 2002 and 2007, about their relationship with Newell and they told investigators that Newell would make them strip naked so he could ‘search them for ticks’.
Newell told police that 10 ‘members’ had access to the cabin, and that they ‘come and go.’
Newell denied placing a camera in the bathroom or seeing it, telling the officers: ‘Like I said, there was six other people here.’
Police and an ambulance are seen outside Newell’s home in Maryland on Friday morning
Neighbor Kimberly Maddison Keith said that she heard gunshots from the home
He then told them he needed to go to the bathroom, and was spotted trying to swallow a memory card. Doctors later confirmed the presence of a metal object in his stomach.
Investigators found a hard drive in a safe at Newell’s residence that showed videos of boys showering, the affidavit said, according to CBS Baltimore.
‘In some of the videos, Newell is seen setting up the camera in the bathroom,’ the affidavit said.
A federal criminal complaint was filed on September 9, and the following day police went to arrest him.
Newell’s Facebook page was deleted, but according to The Sun it included a series of posts about mentoring boys.
He posted images of the hunting cabin and wrestling matches, and in March 2020 discussed an interaction with a 13-year-old neighbor during the pandemic.
He said he believed that boys ‘especially need physical contact.’
‘Ordinarily to cheer him up I would have teased him, gave him a pat on the shoulder, mussed up his sweaty hair, maybe even sent him on his way with a little swat on the butt,’ Newell reportedly wrote.
‘I think boys especially need physical contact: picking, poking, plucking—its part of how they communicate with one another and show affection, even if it occasionally leads to a fight.’