A 33-year-old female motorcycle mechanic in an unconventional relationship with a 64-year-old Upper Makefield pharmaceutical executive was charged Friday with his death.
Prosecutors said Jennifer Lynn Morrissey, who has connections throughout Lower Bucks County and lists on Facebook as being a New Jersey native, was charged with criminal homicide, burglary, possessing instruments of crime and tampering with or fabricating evidence. She is accused of being involved in the fatal shooting that killed Michael McNew inside his quaint riverside home at 1050 River Road in the Washington Crossing section of Upper Makefield.
Authorities allege that Morrissey was living with McNew on-and-off and had provided her with support and housing since January 2015. However, things appeared to have soured and McNew ordered her to move out of his 2,700-square-foot home.
On the evening of Sunday, August 6, McNew died of a single gunshot wound in the area of his nose. A .380 caliber shell casing was found near his body and his cell phone was taken, police said.
McNew’s body was found on Tuesday, August 8 after a medical call to the River Road home. Following the discovery, an immediate investigation began and kept up its pace until charges were filed.
In court papers, Upper Makefield Detective Jeffrey Jumper and Bucks County Detective Eric Landamia wrote that there appeared to be no indication of a struggle inside the home. They also noted that McNew’s rifle was found along with an unloaded .22 caliber handgun.
At a press conference, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said a third handgun owned by McNew – a .380 caliber Smith and Wesson – was unaccounted following the homicide. He declined to answer if it has since been recovered.
Morrissey, the mother of a kindergarten-age son, was on probation related to the cases and county records indicate she was ordered to serve house arrest in 2016. She also is alleged to have violated probation earlier this year and had ongoing proceedings as of early September.
According to social media posts, interviews with people who knew McNew and police, both McNew and Morrissey loved motorcycles. Morrissey lists her most recent employment as Brian’s Harley Davidson in Middletown.
McNew’s adult children told police they had not spoken with their father between the evening of Sunday, August 6 and the time his body was discovered. His daughter said she texted with her dad on August 6 at 5 p.m.; his son and new daughter-in-law returned from their honeymoon and were picked up by McNew before last speaking with him around 4:50 p.m.
McNew’s son told detectives he saw that his father’s Haley Davidson motorcycle was not at the residence and said his dad commented that Morrissey must not be home. He also noted Morrissey and McNew were arguing in late July.
Authorities did not release exactly what they believe happened inside the home around the time of the slaying, but noted in court papers that Morrissey “did attempt to stage the scene of a murder as a robbery.”
Police obtained a search warrant for Morrissey’s two phones – an Apple iPhone and a ZTE – and recovered messages that were deleted. The Sunday, August 6 messages showed an argument between McNew and Morrissey. In the statements, McNew reportedly said the 33-year-old woman was not welcome at his home and he was putting her belongings in storage.
Morrissey allegedly responded to the messages with threats of violence.
“Get the gun ready cause I’m coming, I already told you that I’ll be there tonight,… guess your just gonna have to shoot me,” one message said.
“I’ll gut you like I’m field dressing a f**king deer,” another stated.
Phone data was used to determine that Morrissey had returned to McNew’s residence the night of Sunday, August 6 and left around 1:30 a.m. Monday, August 7.
Phone data was last received early on Monday, August 7 near the Delaware River in Yardley Borough.
The district attorney did not go into much depth on the relationship between McNew and Morrissey, who is 31 years younger. However, he did note the two had lived together, and he had provided her with financial assistance.
“There was a relationship,” Weintraub said before stating he could not define the full details.
NewtownPANow.com obtained court records that showed McNew bailed Morrissey out of Bucks County custody for a 2014 Bensalem drug-related arrest and a March 2015 vehicle crash arrest in Upper Makefield.
During an interview with detectives in late August, a tearful Morrissey cast suspicion on her boyfriend, who is listed on Facebook as residing in Bensalem. She also claimed to have not visited McNew’s home since late July and tearfully said McNew should have feared “my boyfriend.”
Morrissey told detectives McNew did “everything” for her and he did not deserve to die.
A confidential informant came forward and told police McNew threatened to pass along information about Morrissey’s boyfriend to the FBI.
From the district attorney’s office:
Two other confidential informants told investigators that Morrissey said to them that she had gone to McNew’s home to confront him, wrestled from him a gun he was holding, and accidentally shot him with it, the affidavit said. The informants said Morrissey told of returning to the house afterward to stage a robbery scene but gave different versions of whether she was alone or with a man on the second visit.
A fourth confidential informant told police that Morrissey had expressed concern about a burglary she had committed, saying she was worried that her phone and smart watch might place her at the crime scene, the affidavit said.
Several Bucks County residents spoke with this news organization about McNew and said he was a personable man who enjoyed patronizing the Yardley Inn. The three who spoke wished to not have their names published.
Morrissey was being held in the Bucks County Correctional Facility without bail.
Editor’s Note: All individuals arrested or charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The story was compiled using information from police and public court documents.