Jedele, Harrell face murder charges

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 31, 2007

AHOSKIE – The Hertford County Grand Jury has upped the ante.

On Monday, the Grand Jury returned true bills of indictment for first degree murder against Raymond Christian Jedele and Janet Denise Harrell, both charged in the disappearance and death of Donald Bradley Smithwick of Ahoskie.

Jedele, 38 of Kill Devil Hills, now stands indicted on the charges of first degree murder, first degree kidnapping and armed robbery. Harrell, 33 of Edenton, faces accessory after the fact of first degree murder, accessory after the fact of first degree kidnapping and accessory after the fact or armed robbery.

Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh said, to his knowledge, the indictment paperwork has yet to be served on either of the two suspects. Jedele remains incarcerated at Central Prison in Raleigh under a $10 million cash bond. Harrell is jailed in the Hertford County Detention Center under a $3 million cash bond.

Smithwick was kidnapped shortly before 6 a.m. on Oct. 4 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).

Upon his disappearance, hundreds of law enforcement officers and search and rescue personnel from several different agencies 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. that same morning.

Smithwick’s body was found by a North Carolina Wildlife Officer near Edenton on the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 9.

An autopsy was performed by the State Medical Examiner’s office in Greenville. In regards to the autopsy report, Chief Fitzhugh has not yet released the official cause of death. Fitzhugh also withheld comment when asked about the DNA tests on evidence (blood) found in Smithwick’s driveway, the cab of his pick-up truck and the trunk of the vehicle operated by Jedele. That evidence was sent to the North Carolina SBI Crime Lab.

Jedele was employed as an officer with the Kitty Hawk Police Department at the time of his arrest on Oct. 4. He was originally charged with first degree kidnapping.

Harrell, Smithwick’s ex-wife, was arrested one day later on the charge of being an accessory after the fact of first degree kidnapping.

It was reported in Hertford County District Court on Oct. 5 during Jedele’s first appearance that Harrell and Smithwick 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 Oct. 5 to officially sign the custody paperwork. Additionally, it was reported that Harrell and Jedele were friends.

It is unknown when Jedele and Harrell will be back in court to answer the Grand Jury indictments.