A MAN has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of the murder of his 18-year-old stepdaughter, who died of heroin poisoning in 2015.
A Virginia jury deliberated just 40 minutes before finding Wesley Hadsell guilty of first-degree murder and concealing a body.
He was convicted on April 4 of the murder of Anjelica “AJ” Hadsell, who was found dead behind an abandoned home in Southhampton County.
AJ was on spring break from Longwood University when she visited her family home in Norfolk. She disappeared on March 2, 2015.
Five weeks later, her partially buried body was found in a ditch near the North Carolina border.
A coroner determined that AJ died of acute heroin poisoning and “homicidal violence.” The examiner determined that AJ had three times the lethal amount of heroin in her system and that she had bruises on her face.
However, the examiner was unable to determine whether she had been sexually abused due to the damage done to her body by animals and insects.
Hadsell was not charged in the case until 2018. Prosecutors argued that, days earlier, after being thrown out of the family home by his wife for his drug abuse, Hadsell abducted AJ as she was folding laundry in the living room.
Hadsell was charged with kidnapping the teenager to sexually assault her, and prosecutors believed she was not killed until the next day.
Bruises found on AJ’s chest were consistent with someone holding an arm across her chest, Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Toni Colvin said.
Further bruising to her chin was likely caused by someone holding it, and so Colvin believed Hadsell forced the drugs into AJ.
“He abused her, he hit her and then he poisoned her with heroin,” Colvin said in court.
She said that Hadsell attempted to distract police by lying and planting evidence in multiple places, including breaking into the home of one of AJ’s male friends and hiding a jacket with her name embroidered with his belongings.
Hadsell admitted to breaking into the house during a previous interview with a local TV station, but said he didn’t put the jacket there.
However, defense attorney James Ellenson argued that AJ committed suicide by overdosing on medication she was taking for migraines.
Ellenson claimed that AJ suffered from depression because of her relationship with her boyfriend and downloaded suicidal-themed images days before she disappeared.
AJ’s mother, Jennifer Wright, testified that her daughter was happy before she died and said her ex-husband’s behavior was erratic after her daughter went missing.
“It was very strange,” Wright said. “He always came and went.
Heroin was found hidden in a crevice near the ceiling of the motel room where Hadsell was staying after he was kicked out by his wife, Norfolk Police said.
Matt Burnham, an officer with the Norfolk Police Department, said he found a bag containing a white substance that was later determined to be heroin. A drug dealer testified that he sold the drugs to Hadsell the day after AJ was reported missing.
A search of Hadsell’s work truck found a shovel and duct tape on the back and a hair tie between the seats. A photo of AJ was also found in the vehicle.
The police found the abandoned house thanks to the GPS device in the van. The vehicle was found to have driven from Norfolk to the home on March 4, two days after JA went missing.
Bank records and grocery store surveillance footage showed Hadsell was in the area.
“There was no reason for the defendant to be there,” Colvin said.
The case is covered on tonight’s episode of Dateline.
We pay for your stories!
Do you have a story for The US Sun team?
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5487373/anjelica-hadsell-poisoning-wesley-murder-sentence-dateline/ Critical clues in death of Anjelica ‘AJ’ Hadsell that led police to stepdad Wendall, including key evidence he PLANTED