A Jacksonville, Florida, woman researched bridge accidents and “huge cliffs” in Virginia before she was caught attempting to hide her daughter’s body in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, in August, according to an arrest warrant issued in Duval County, Florida.
Two people from New York traveling through West Virginia reported they saw 37-year-old Erica T. Newsome carrying the body of 11-year-old Kaye-Lea Plummer, wrapped in a blanket, over a hill in Bartow, on Aug. 6, 2017.
On Jan. 10, Newsome was charged with second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse in Florida, according to the arrest warrant issued that day.
A medical examiner with the West Virginia Medical Examiner’s office said at the time of her death, Plummer’s body mass index was in the first percentile for a child her age, indicating she was malnourished, according to the arrest warrant.
Plummer suffered injuries to her head, torso and extremities, all of which the medical examiner said contributed to her death, according to the warrant. There also was evidence that Plummer was strangled or suffocated, according to the warrant.
Plummer also suffered multiple injuries that were in various stages of healing, which the medical examiner said indicated aggravated child abuse, according to the warrant.
During a search of Newsome’s cell phone, an investigating officer found multiple internet searches that were completed on Aug. 4, before she left her home in Jacksonville, according to the warrant.
Among the phrases the officer said Newsome searched for were “Alligator Ponds,” “Fatal Bridge Accidents in Jacksonville,” “Fatal Car Accidents off Cliffs in Flames,” “People Killed on Virginia Cliffs,” and “Virginia Highways That Has Huge Cliffs.”
West Virginia State Police first encountered Newsome after a couple traveling through Pocahontas County reported they came upon a car accident and saw Newsome carrying her daughter’s body over a hill in along U.S. 250 in Bartow, about 1.5 miles away from the Virginia state line, according to the criminal complaint filed in Pocahontas County Magistrate Court.
Newsome talked with the responding state trooper, and she told him she picked her daughter up from her bed in their Jacksonville home and put her in the vehicle on Aug. 4, according to the complaint.
Kaye-Lea’s father, Donath Plummer told News 4 Jax Newsome texted him on Aug. 5 to say she was bringing Kaye-Lea to his home in Buffalo, New York.
Donath Plummer and Newsome had been separated since 2009, and he said he hadn’t seen Kaye-Lea since 2014.
In that report, Donath Plummer described Newsome as a “great mother.”
In an interview with WIVB in Buffalo, Kaye-Lea’s godmother, JaNice Morrow, said Kaye-Lea was a happy girl and Newsome “would never harm the hair on Kaye-Lea’s head.”
In Pocahontas County, Newsome told the state trooper her daughter did not move, eat, drink or use the restroom for two days prior to the crash, according to the complaint.
A coroner who responded to the scene of the crash said it appeared Newsome’s daughter had been dead for at least 24 hours, based on the odor and state of her body, according to the complaint.
Newsome has been incarcerated in Tygart Valley Regional Jail since Aug. 7. In West Virginia, she was charged with felony concealment of a deceased human body.
Pocahontas County Prosecuting Attorney Eugene Simmons said Tuesday he did not intend to seek an indictment against Newsome in West Virginia in light of the charges in Florida.
Simmons said he was in touch with authorities to extradite Newsome to Florida, but he said no extradition hearing had been scheduled as of Tuesday.