Former Ironton woman leaves N.C. jail

Published 9:34 am Friday, October 17, 2008

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A Georgia grandmother who came under suspicion because all five of her husbands had died was released Thursday from a North Carolina jail where she had been held on charges in one of their deaths.

Betty Neumar, 76, posted $300,000 bond late Thursday morning at the Stanly County jail, where she’s been held since her arrest in May, Sheriff Rick Burris said.

Neumar is charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder in the 1986 death of her fourth husband, Harold Gentry.

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‘‘I can’t believe they let her out. It’s just wrong, flat out wrong. I don’t understand,’’ said Gentry’s brother, Al, who pressed law enforcement for more than two decades to get the case reopened.

Prosecutors allege Betty Neumar tried to hire three people to kill Gentry in the six weeks before his bullet-riddled body was found in his rural North Carolina home.

Since her arrest, police in Florida and Ohio have begun to re-examine the deaths of her first child — Gary Flynn, whose 1985 death was ruled a suicide— and three of her other husbands, though she faces no charges in those cases.

Georgia police recently closed their re-examination of the death of her fifth husband, John Neumar, saying they have no evidence she was involved.

His son, John K. Neumar, was also shocked to find she was out of jail: ‘‘I’ve lost all faith in the legal system,” he said from his Georgia home.

Neumar’s attorney, Charles Parnell, said the case has ‘‘been blown out of proportion.’’ He said evidence continues to be released that shows his client wasn’t involved in her husbands’ deaths.

Parnell said he expected Neumar to return to Georgia, where she lives with her daughter.

Al Gentry said law enforcement officers have told him to be careful since he was instrumental in Neumar’s arrest.

‘‘Now my back has a big target on it,’’ said Gentry, who said he regularly carries a gun for protection.

Burris said he was surprised Neumar was able to post the bond, recently lowered from $500,000, but confident in the prosecution’s case. He said it will likely take several months for prosecutors and defense attorneys to review all the court documents.

In 1950, Neumar, whose maiden name was Johnson, married Clarence Malone, 19, in an evening wedding at the Tenth Street Tabernacle in Ironton.

Some news accounts state that Clarence Malone, Betty’s first husband, died in 1952 under suspicious circumstances which has fueled those accusations.

However, The Ironton Tribune in an interview with Malone’s youngest brother, Robert, has learned that Malone and Betty divorced soon after their marriage. Robert said he adamantly believes Betty was not involved in his brother’s murder.

“She did not kill my brother. My brother was in the Korean War. They divorced around 1951 or 1952,” Robert Malone, now living in Boone, Iowa, said. (In 1969 or 1970) “My mother called and said he was shot.”

The Social Security Death Index lists a Clarence Malone with the correct birth date of the Ironton resident with a death date of November 1970. His Social Security card was issued in Ohio.

By that time, Clarence Malone was in the trucking business and had been married at least two more times, living in the Medina area, his brother recalled.