Virginia Jewell

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Above: Jewell, circa 2002

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: June 2002 from Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Age: 78 years old
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Gray hair.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Jewell's adopted daughter, Aileen Berry, said she last saw her mother in June 2002. The women were living together with Aileen's family in Little Rock, Arkansas at the time. Jewell's has never been heard from again. Her disappearance was not reported until 2004, when someone from Ontario, California asked the Little Rock police to check on Jewell's well-being.

    When questioned, Aileen claimed her mother had left the residence unexpectedly one day and never returned. At first she said Jewell was in Michigan, then she changed her story and said she didn't know her mother's whereabouts. Aileen's children said they hadn't seen their grandmother since 2002 and that Aileen told them Jewell was in a nursing home.

    After Jewell's disappearance, authorities discovered that someone had been stealing her retirement and Social Security benefits. On October 19, police arrested Aileen and charged her with financial identity fraud in connection with the missing money and named her as a person of interest in Jewell's case. She was released from jail on bond. A photograph of her is posted below this case summary.

    On October 21, investigators searched Aileen's former home and found some of Jewell's treasured possessions in the burn pile outside. On November 9, Aileen's current home was searched and Jewell's personal papers, including a birth certificate and bank documents, were located. That same day. Aileen's children reported their mother as a missing person, saying she hadn't come home from work the previous night.

    In February 2005, authorities located Aileen in Florida and arrested her for failure to appear in court. She claimed she had amnesia. A state psychologist determined she was psychotic and unfit to stand trial and she was committed to the Arkansas State Hospital for treatment. In October 2005, Aileen's ex-husband, Richard Berry, was arrested in California on charges of abuse of a corpse and hindering apprehension in connection with Jewell's disappearance. Richard allegedly told friends Aileen had killed Jewell and he had burned her body. In February 2006, Richard gave a statement about Jewell's case to authorities. He said he took the children out for ice cream and when he returned, he discovered Aileen had strangled her mother in an argument, and they burned Jewell's body together. In April, Richard pleaded guilty to the charges against him and was sentenced to twelve years in prison. He agreed to testify against Aileen.

    In May, mental health officials determined Aileen, though mentally ill, was fit to stand trial. They believed she was faking a multiple personality condition. She was charged with capital murder in June. In October, Aileen pleaded no contest to first-degree murder in Jewell's presumed death. She was sentenced to eighteen years in prison.

    Jewell's body has never been located, but foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.

    Berry
    Above: Aileen Berry

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Little Rock Police Department
    501-371-4617

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    Source Information
    KATV
    THV KTHV Little Rock, Arkansas
    The St. Petersburg Times
    The Arkansas Democrat and Gazette

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    Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated August 14, 2008; details of disappearance updated.

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