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Husband of missing Newport News woman charged with first-degree murder of his estranged wife

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Posted at 1:16 PM, Jul 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 12:59:41-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Adrian Lewis, husband of missing Shanitia Mikell Eure-Lewis, has been charged with first-degree murder and using a firearm in commission of a felony in connection with the disappearance of his wife, court documents say.

Virginia State Police reported Eure-Lewis missing on July 18, 2022 with her family and friends at Gethsemane Baptist Church being the last people to see her during Sunday’s church service. An Ashanti Alert was also issued for Eure-Lewis following her disappearance.

During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said the current number one priority in the city was to locate Eure-Lewis' body. "It is my hope and prayer that we find Ms. Lewis quickly. The community is hurting. The church is hurting, but for her family and her children we need to do that."

Drew spoke with Lewis' children on Tuesday.

"I just expressed to them that they matter and we love them and that we're going to do everything we can to find their mother," he said.

According to a criminal complaint, Eure-Lewis was last seen by her children having a verbal altercation with Lewis, then leaving the residence with him in his truck.

Eure-Lewis' sister told investigators that her sister and Lewis were having marital problems, and on July 5, 2022, Eure-Lewis told her husband she wanted to file for divorce. On July 14, Lewis allegedly made suicidal ideations to Eure-Lewis, who removed all the firearms from their residence and brought them, along with her children, to her sister's house for safekeeping.

On Sunday, July 17, Lewis and Eure-Lewis came to the sister's house to pick up their children at around 1:30 a.m. At 9:40 a.m. the same day, Lewis called the sister saying his wife was having an affair and asking the sister to take care of their children; he called her again around noon saying that he and Eure-Lewis had a "verbal altercation" and that Eure-Lewis "jumped out of [his] truck" near a Wawa gas station on Jefferson Avenue and Harpersville Road.

Newport News Police said cameras in the area do not corroborate Lewis' story.

Following this conversation, the sister attempted to contact her Eure-Lewis, but was unable to call her. She received several texts from Eure-Lewis' phone, but never verbally spoke to her.

Investigators now believe Lewis was in possession of Eure-Lewis' phone.

At around 3:45 p.m., the sister was en route to Eure-Lewis' home when she saw Lewis' truck parked next to a dumpster in the parking lot of 6216 Jefferson Avenue. When she went to investigate, Lewis was allegedly placing items in the dumpster; police said the items included a shovel with dirt, a brown purse and sandals, a blanket with a suspected handprint and several documents including Lewis' and Eure-Lewis' information.

Court documents also say that blood was later found in the front passenger seat of Lewis' truck, with a "significant amount" of blood found on the lower seat mount. Lewis said the blood was from his dog who had been shot by a neighbor, but detectives later confirmed during a search of Lewis' residence that both his dogs were healthy and had no gunshot wounds.

Lewis also bought a plane ticket to Jamaica departing the day after Eure-Lewis went missing. He was detained at the Washington Dulles International Airport Monday morning.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Lewis was escorted from the airport at around 4:15 a.m. after officers encountered him at the departure gate for a flight to Montego Bay, Jamaica. His wife's passport and credit cards were found in his baggage.

Eure-Lewis has not been seen since the argument with Lewis in the driveway witnessed by her children. She has not contacted anyone by phone or text since her disappearance.

Police said Tuesday that they are still searching for her body. According to the NNPD, police have narrowed the search to a few specific locations and are not requesting the public’s assistance at this time in order to preserve evidence.

Members at Gethsemane Baptist Church, where Eure-Lewis was a member, and neighbors that knew her are struggling to come to terms with her disappearance.

News 3's Leondra Head spoke with Gethsemane Baptist senior pastor Dwight Riddick, who says Eure-Lewis was a devoted mother and an active church member.

"It’s a really difficult time. We knew Shanitia very well and we know her husband also. I’ve worked with them over the last week. So to come to this place and this point is really tough," Riddick said.

Head asked Riddick if he was shocked to learn that Shanitia's husband is being charged in connection to her murder.

"As things were unfolding as information was being released, I sensed that it may go in that direction," Riddick said.

Lewis' first hearing will be Wednesday, July 20 at 10 a.m.