Lakeville man admits to accidentally killing woman when she disappeared nearly one year ago

Michelle Newell vanished last August, leading to a monthslong search.
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Michelle Newell.

Michelle Newell.

Almost exactly one year ago Michelle Newell went missing – an event that triggered a monthslong search to discover what happened to her and who was responsible.

The man suspected by authorities from the beginning is now heading to prison.

Timothy Barr was sentenced to seven years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, Valley News Live reports

As part of his guilty plea Barr admitted to backing over Newell with his car, according to KFGO. A manslaughter charge against him was dismissed.

Barr was originally charged with murder

The 52-year-old Barr was named a suspect in Newell's death shortly after she disappeared in late August of 2016

Barr was charged with second-degree murder in Minnesota, even as weeks later authorities were still asking for hunters' help finding her body.

But in October the murder charge against Barr was dropped, with the Ramsey County Attorney's Office saying there wasn't enough evidence to prove she was killed in Minnesota.

Investigators were led to remains

In early December, investigators found remains in rural Cass County North Dakota – hair, a forearm bone with an elbow connection, other small bones and some teeth.

Authorities in that state promptly charged Barr with manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. Shortly after Christmas, the remains were confirmed to be Newell.

Barr, according to the charges, had come forward to Cass County officials on Dec. 2 to show them on a map where her body was.

The criminal complaint says investigators had previously spoken with two people who knew Barr. They told the investigators Barr admitted he accidentally backed over Newell, who was hiding under his vehicle.

In court Thursday, Barr read a letter calling it a "terrible accident" and saying the moment still haunts him, Forum News Service reports.

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