Clues hunted for TV anchor's killer Woods combed after slaying of newscaster.

February 12, 1991|By Knight-Ridder

MARSHALL, Mich. -- Investigators and volunteers combed boggy woodlands and fields, searching for clues to the slaying of a television anchor, gunned down in front of her two small children.

Diane Newton King was killed over the weekend in the driveway of her rural Calhoun County home as she started to remove her children from their car seats. Newton King, 34, was hit twice with slugs from a small-caliber gun. Her son, 3, and daughter, 3 months, were uninjured.

An unknown admirer reportedly harassed Newton King in the summer and early fall, but authorities said their investigation is not focused on him.

Olson said there were no indications that King had been followed to her farmhouse.

"Everybody is a suspect," said Calhoun County Sheriff Jon Olson.

Newton King was found sprawled next to her car by her husband, Bradford, who called police about 6:45 p.m. Saturday. He told police he was walking in the woods at the time of the shooting.

Bradford King, a Western Michigan University criminal justice instructor and former police officer, reported hearing shots in the area frequented by hunters, but nothing he linked to the slaying, Olson said.

"The overall scheme of things would indicate that whoever was the shooter had taken a position that would give him a clear view of fire . . . like a sniper," Olson said.

Newton King told friends and relatives that she had received numerous telephone calls from a man who first wanted advice on how to become a journalist and then wanted to meet her. In mid-October, she received a letter, composed of words snipped from a magazine, addressed to her home, warning her she would regret turning down a lunch date with the admirer.

The letter was the last communication from the man, but sheriff's police had met with Newton King in recent weeks to discuss the case.

Olson characterized the letter writer as "apparently infatuated with Mrs. King . . . He wanted a relationship with Mrs. King."

The Kings had moved to the white frame farmhouse several months ago. Their nearest neighbor was almost a half-mile away.

Newton King anchored the morning news segments at WUHQ-TV, an ABC affiliate in Battle Creek. For two years, she had done morning news segments for the station.

She had returned to work in January after giving birth in November to Kateri Tekakwitha, named after a Mohawk Indian woman beatified by the Roman Catholic Church. Newton King was proud of her Mohawk heritage and planned to have Kateri baptized in a buckskin gown.

Freida Newton, Diane Newton King's mother, said, "All she wanted was to have a little farmhouse for the kids."

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