THORNWOOD, W.Va. — A single vehicle accident in Pocahontas County on Sunday led to a far more extensive investigation by the West Virginia State Police when a body was discovered nearby.
Troopers responded to the wreck around 11:20 a.m. Sunday on U.S. Route 250 on Allegheny Mountain a mile and a half west of the Virginia border. The driver, identified as Erica Newsome of Jacksonville, Florida, lost control and crashed. Troopers discovered her away from the vehicle about 150 feet over a nearby embankment. There they also discovered the body of a dead child.
“If it hadn’t been for an older couple from New York City who observed the child being removed from the vehicle, we probably would have just thought it was a minor motor vehicle accident with a driver and nobody else,” said State Police Sgt. Fred Barlow.
The body was that of Newsome’s 11-year-old daughter. Since the wreck, investigators were able to determine the child was killed in Jacksonville and loaded into the car.
“The death occurred in Jacksonville, Florida,” said Barlow. “The child was placed in the vehicle early Saturday morning and she headed toward Buffalo, New York.”
Jacksonville authorities went to Newsome’s residence and discovered evidence of the crime there. Detectives of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department were headed to West Virginia Monday. The child’s body is at the state Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. There is no confirmation on a cause of death, but foul play is suspected and more arrests could be forthcoming in Florida..
The father of the deceased child lives in Buffalo. Newsome indicated to state police that was where she was headed.
“She knew she had vehicle issues and didn’t want to be driving at interstate speeds,” Barlow said. “She decided to stay off major highways and that’s how she wound up in Thornwood.”
The couple from New York City were in the area returning to their home after a Bluegrass Music festival in Parsons. According to state police, they observed Newsome remove the child’s body from the car and take it over the hill. The couple waited for troopers to arrive and shared the information. Barlow credited the couple for aiding in the investigation, otherwise he said it’s unlikely the discovery would have been made.
Newsome is lodged in the Southern Regional Jail facing charges of concealment of a dead human being.