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Hartselle Enquirer

State seeking death penalty for Fort Payne woman accused of pushing victim off cliff

By David Gambino 

For the Enquirer  

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against a Fort Payne woman accused of pushing a Hartselle woman off a cliff in Little River Canyon National Preserve, according to a notice filed Friday in Dekalb County Circuit Court. 

Loretta Kay Carr, 45, along with her daughter, Jessie Eden Kelly, 22, are both charged with capital murder-kidnapping in the October 2021 death of Mary Elizabeth Isbell. Ninth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Summer Summerford said in her notice that the death penalty is warranted against Carr after evaluating the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the case. 

Kelly

Isbell had been reported missing by her ex-husband almost two years before her body, with the help of information provided by one of the suspects, was discovered in the preserve and identified on what would have been her 39th birthday: June 30, 2023. 

When Isbell was reported missing in December 2021, Hartselle police investigators determined through phone records that she had been living in Dekalb County. The Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office then searched her residence and said they found signs of a struggle. 

A Dekalb County investigator, who called the crime one of the most “heinous” in his career, said the suspects and Isbell knew each other through “a boyfriend.” 

Carr waived her arraignment and pleaded not guilty on Wednesday. Kelly’s arraignment is scheduled for June 12; she had not received notice that prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against her as of this past Friday. Authorities are keeping Kelly in a separate jail from her mother’s. Both are being held without bond. 

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