Authorities in Ramsey County have dismissed murder charges against a man suspected in the death of a missing Vadnais Heights woman.
Timothy Barr, 51, of Lakeville, was charged with murder last month after Michelle Newell was reported missing. She had been seen with him, and investigators said Barr told two other people he had run her over with a car and killed her, possibly during a drug deal or thwarted sexual encounter.
Barr allegedly also said he had hidden Newell's body, possibly in eastern North or South Dakota.
That brought a call from authorities to help find her remains as the hunting season opened there earlier this month.
Prosecutors in St. Paul have agreed to drop murder charges, saying it wasn't clear that Newell's presumed death happened in Minnesota. Authorities agreed to a motion by Barr's lawyer, dismissing the charges.
Instead, Barr has pleaded guilty to a charge of fleeing police when officers tried to pick him up, during the investigation into Newell's disappearance last month.
Authorities say Barr faces more than a year and a half in prison, based on prior convictions, and will be back in court for sentencing Nov. 17.
The investigation into Newell's death is ongoing, and authorities have asked people to be on alert for signs of her remains. Police say they have surveillance video showing Newell and Barr together on Aug. 29, and phone records indicating they'd texted each other that same day.
A statement from the Ramsey County Attorney's office says murder charges could be refiled, and the charges against Barr says investigators seized his car to look for evidence — possibly DNA connecting him to Newell. But authorities haven't disclosed any results of that examination so far.