Woman Charged in August Slaying of Washington Crossing Man

A 33-year-old woman was charged today with criminal homicide in the Aug. 6 shooting death of Michael McNew, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub announced this afternoon.

McNew, 64, 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.

Jennifer Lynn Morrissey, who had lived in McNew’s house, was charged this morning with criminal homicide, burglary, possession of instruments of crime and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.

Morrissey was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Michael W. Petrucci of Newtown, who denied bail and scheduled a preliminary hearing for Oct. 16 at 2:30 p.m. She is being held at the Bucks County Correctional Facility.

“We made an arrest after an extensive investigation that encompassed several weeks of very, very hard work and dedicated effort by Upper Makefield Township Police and the Bucks County Detectives,” Weintraub said at a news conference in Doylestown. “It’s once again a testament to collaboration and cooperation between law enforcement agencies, which is a hallmark of Bucks County police.”

In a probable cause affidavit, police allege that Morrissey, having been ordered by McNew to move out of his house on River Road, fatally shot him on the evening of Aug. 6, then returned hours later to make the scene appear as if a robbery had occurred.

One of two firearms registered to McNew, a .380 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, was missing from his home, the affidavit states. A .380 caliber shell casing was found near his body, and his cell phone was missing.

When first interviewed by police about the slaying, Morrissey tearfully cast suspicion on her boyfriend, the affidavit states. She claimed that she had not visited McNew’s house since July 31, and had not resided there for several months.

Cell phone records suggest otherwise. According to the affidavit, account records for Morrissey’s phone show that it utilized cellular towers near McNew’s home between 9:34 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. on Aug. 6.

A court-approved search of Morrissey’s iPhone found user-deleted text messages recounting an argument between Morrissey and McNew on the evening of Aug. 6, the affidavit states. McNew texted that he was boxing up her belongings and placing them into storage for her to pick up.

“McNew further texted that Morrissey was not welcome at the home and that he would defend himself if she came into his home,” the affidavit says.

Morrissey responded by texting numerous threats of violence, according to the affidavit, including the following:

  • “get the gun ready cause I’m coming, I already told you that I’ll be there tonight … guess you’re just gonna have to shoot me …”
  • “… I’m gonna stab ya”
  • “I’ll gut you like I’m field dressing a [expletive] deer.”

The examination of Morrissey’s iPhone further found wireless connection information indicating that the phone had auto-connected to a wireless router inside McNew’s residence at 9:37 p.m. on the night of the slaying, the affidavit states.

Meanwhile, phone records showed that McNew’s cell phone remained stationary at the residence from 9 p.m. on Aug. 6 to about 1 a.m. on Aug. 7. At that point the phone began moving away from the home, the affidavit states, and last communicated with the cellular network at 1:34 a.m. in an area of Yardley Borough close to the Delaware River.

A confidential informant told investigators about an argument between Morrissey and McNew in which McNew threatened to give the FBI information about Morrissey’s boyfriend, the affidavit states.

Two other confidential informants told investigators that Morrissey said to them that she had gone to McNew’s home to confront him, wrested 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.

Deputy District Attorney Christopher W. Rees has been assigned to prosecute the case. Morrissey is represented by attorney S. Philip Steinberg.

The case is being investigated by the Upper Makefield Township Police Department and the Bucks County Detectives.

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

Approved for release by Matthew D. Weintraub, District Attorney.