Lawmen await medical report on discovered body

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 10, 2007

EDENTON – The discovery of a body on Tuesday in Chowan County may be linked with the kidnapping of an Ahoskie man last week.

Concerning that discovery, Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh said he is waiting for identification confirmation from the state Medical Examiner’s office in Greenville.

“There’s just not a lot we can say as of right now until we have confirmation from the Medical Examiner,” Fitzhugh said. “Plus, since this is an ongoing investigation, we do not want to prematurely release any information that may jeopardize this case.”

Since the kidnapping of Donald Bradley Smithwick on Thursday morning, local, regional and state law enforcement along with emergency response teams have searched for the Ahoskie man. The searches were primarily in Bertie and Chowan counties with a heavy concentration on the Chowan River at the Eden House Bridge (US 17).

At approximately 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, a North Carolina Wildlife Officer discovered a body in a wooded area of southern Chowan County. TV news sources said the area was near an airport.

“We believe this is the body of Donald Bradley Smithwick, but again we must wait for the official confirmation from the Medical Examiner.”

Fitzhugh said he was unsure of the time table of that confirmation.

He made no comment in regards to what led searchers to this particular area.

Ironically, about the same time the body was discovered, Smithwick’s ex-wife, Janet Denise Harrell of Edenton, was 40 miles away in Winton making her first appearance in Hertford County District Court on the charge of accessory after the fact of first degree kidnapping.

There, Harrell meekly answered “yes” when asked by District 6B Judge Rob Lewis if she wanted a court-appointed attorney. In regards to an effort to reduce Harrell’s $3 million cash bond, Judge Lewis said he would not rule on that issue at this time.

Raymond Christian Jedele, a Kitty Hawk Police Officer and an acquaintance of Harrell, was arrested last Thursday on the charge of first degree kidnapping. He made his first court appearance on Friday where despite his plea that police had the wrong man in custody, Chief District Court Judge Al Kwasikpui increased Jedele’s bond to $10 million cash.

Both Harrell and Jedele are scheduled to be back in court on Oct. 30. However, that date may be moved up if Smithwick’s body is positively identified. If and when that occurs, murder charges may be lodged against the duo.