Kidnapping nets second arrest

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 9, 2007

AHOSKIE – A second arrest has been made in connection with last week’s kidnapping here.

Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh reported that 33-year-old Janet Denise Harrell of 235 Tynch Town Road, Edenton, was arrested Friday night. Harrell is charged with accessory after the fact of first degree kidnapping. She is being held in the Hertford County Detention Center under a $3 million cash bond.

Her first court appearance is scheduled for today (Tuesday) in Winton.

On Thursday, Raymond Christian Jedele, 38, of Kill Devil Hills was arrested by Ahoskie Police for first degree kidnapping. His original $5 million cash bond was doubled by Senior District Court Judge Al Kwasikpui during Jedele’s first court appearance on Friday morning.

Both Harrell and Jedele, a Kitty Hawk Police Officer, are linked to the disappearance of Donald Bradley Smithwick of Ahoskie. Harrell is Smithwick’s ex-wife and it was reported in Hertford County District Court on Friday that the two were locked in a custody battle over their two children. Apparently, Smithwick won that battle and, according to several sources, was scheduled to be at the Chowan County Courthouse in Edenton on Friday to officially sign the custody paperwork. Additionally, it was reported that Harrell and Jedele were friends.

Smithwick was allegedly kidnapped shortly before 6 a.m. Thursday as he left for work from his Ahoskie home on Colony Ave. There, a lone suspect, believed to be Jedele, allegedly used a taser weapon to subdue, bound and kidnap Smithwick. Blood was found in Smithwick’s driveway and in the cab of his pick-up truck (discovered abandoned a few blocks away from his home).

Since his disappearance, hundreds of law enforcement officers and search and rescue personnel from several different agencies have scoured the area of the Eden House Bridge (US 17) spanning the Chowan River between Bertie and Chowan counties. It was on that bridge where Jedele was involved in a vehicle accident around 7:11 a.m. Friday.

Bertie Sheriff Greg Atkins reported yesterday (Monday) that divers were back in the water below the bridge, near where the accident occurred, conducting what he termed as a “small item search.”

“We, along with the Chowan County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies, continue to search the land and the water on both sides of the Chowan River,” Sheriff Atkins said.

Back in Ahoskie, Fitzhugh and his officers performed two traffic investigations on Saturday along Academy Street and the First Street/Pembroke Ave. area. Fitzhugh said motorists were shown photos of both the victim and the male suspect.

“That effort generated a few responses that we are following up on,” Fitzhugh said. “We’re doing everything we can to keep this in the public’s eye. We’re still holding on to hope that Mr. Smithwick will be found alive.”

According to Chief Fitzhugh, the APD E-911 dispatch center received a call at 5:59 a.m. Thursday concerning an abduction at 420 North Colony Ave. Officers were immediately dispatched to that address. Upon arrival, they found blood in the driveway as well as wire from a Taser weapon. APD officials summoned the help of the SBI to process the crime scene.

Following Jedele’s accident on the bridge, the vehicle involved in that crash, a 1998 Lincoln, was towed to an Edenton residence. Later on Thursday, investigators discovered blood in the trunk of that vehicle.

Friday morning, the Kitty Hawk Police Department placed Jedele on Disciplinary Suspension without pay. Jedele has been employed with the Kitty Hawk Police Department since April 18, 2006 and previously worked with Blackwater, a self-described private military company and security firm located near Moyock.