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Anchorwoman Slain In Her Driveway, Search On For Suspects

February 12, 1991

MARSHALL, Mich. (AP) _ A television anchorwoman who was haunted by threatening calls and a letter from a rebuffed male admirer was shot to death in her driveway, but investigators Monday didn’t rule out other suspects.

Diane Newton King of WUHQ-TV in Battle Creek was shot twice Saturday night as she turned to get her two young children out of her car.

Police searched the farmhouse where Newton King, 34, and her husband, former police officer Bradford King, lived with their 3-year-old son and 3- month-old daughter.

Investigators also searched weed-choked fields surrounding the home and nearby woods where the anchorwoman’s husband said he was walking when she was shot about 6 p.m. in Fredonia Township in southern Michigan.

Newton King and her children had just returned from her native Detroit when she was shot with a small-caliber gun as the youngsters remained strapped into their car seats. Her husband discovered the body in the driveway, Olson said.

Authorities were not limiting their search for a suspect to an anonymous male admirer who sent Newton King a threatening note months earlier, Calhoun County Sheriff Jon Olson said at a news conference.

″Everyone is a suspect,″ he said.

Sheriff’s deputies last year investigated threats against Newton King but made no arrests, sheriff’s Lt. Terry Cook said earlier. About two weeks ago, Newton King mentioned in a telephone conversation with Jan Hammer, general manager of Colorado TV station KJCT, that a man had been harassing her.

Newton King had worked for KJCT before moving to WUHQ two years ago.

″She had been receiving calls from a male who had wanted to get into the broadcasting business and was asking for her advice,″ Hammer said Monday. ″The caller asked if she wanted to have lunch with him and she declined.

″She supposedly received a letter in the mail and this letter was composed from either using print or magazine letters that had been cut out and said something to the effect that ’You’ll be sorry you didn’t have lunch with me.‴

WUHQ Vice President Mark Crawford said the station informed authorities about the calls and letter at the time. Olson said the calls and letter began in July and ended in October.

″The individual apparently was infatuated with Mrs. King and wanted a relationship,″ Olson said.

Newton King’s husband told police he was walking through the woods behind the farmhouse at the time of the shooting. Olson said King heard shots but thought nothing of it since the area is frequented by hunters.

Olson estimated King found the body about 45 minutes after his wife had been shot.

King, who is now a criminal justice instructor at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, has given a statement to police but has not been formally questioned as a suspect, Olson said.

Newton King had returned to work last month after taking maternity leave to care for her daughter, Crawford said. She anchored five-minute hourly newscasts during ABC’s ″Good Morning America″ show, news briefs during the day and occasional documentaries, he said.

″Why they did this to her, I don’t know. It’s hard,″ said Newton King’s mother, Frieda Newton. ″She wanted so much to have that farm for them.″

On Monday, the flag outside the TV station about 100 miles west of Detroit was flying at half-staff. The doors were locked and guards were posted outside.

The station omitted its news segments Monday morning and instead broadcast text to alert listeners to the slaying and ask anyone with information to call the sheriff’s department.

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