The Kansas restauranteur at the center of an unprecedented raid on a local newspaper has broken her silence — insisting that she didn’t incite the search and seizure.
The Marion County Record was stormed by the city’s entire five-officer police force and two sheriff’s deputies on Aug. 11 after Kari Newell, 46, accused one of its reporters of illegally obtaining her DUI records, which would have gotten her liquor license revoked.
Newell said she has now been the target of vicious hate mail accusing her of killing Joan.
“I’ve probably got 600 or 700 messages saying I have blood on my hands, that I should go to jail for manslaughter, sued for wrongful death, that I killed that poor woman,” Newell told the Kansas City Star.
The home office of the Marion County Record, which police raided Aug. 11 after a local restaurant owner complained.AP
But the local eatery owner insists that she did nothing wrong and is being unfairly demonized.
“Absolutely,” she responded when asked if she was angry about being blamed. “I didn’t go in and raid the newspaper. I didn’t incite the raid.”
In other threatening messages Newell shared with the Kansas City Star, she was labeled the “devil” and a “fascist.”
A screen grab of security camera footage provided by Eric Meyer shows his mother, Joan Meyer, ordering police officers to get out of her house as they searched it on Aug. 11, 2023, in Marion, Kansas.Marion County Record
But the texts are only one part of it, the restauranteur said.
Newell told the paper she had to close off the comment and online reservation section for her restaurant, Chef’s Plate at Parlour 1886, because of the vile missives that rolled in after she complained about the newspaper to the city council on Aug. 7.
The Marion County Record ultimately chose not to report on the story and notified police of the situation, believing the documents were released by someone close to Newell’s ex-husband.
Still, the dispute sparked the police raid on the paper — and the home of its 98-year-old owner — just days later.
The otherwise healthy elderly woman died after going into cardiac arrest a day after cops busted in.
Kari Newell told the Kansas City Star that she’s angry about being blamed for the raid – and Meyer’s death. Facebook
The warrant specifically targeted ownership of computers that could have been used to “participate in the identity theft of Kari Newell.”
Eric Meyer, the Marion County Record’s editor and publisher, said he believes Newell was used as a patsy.
“She is a pawn,” he told the Kansas City Star. “I think she was a convenient excuse used by other people to get at us. I think she’s a patsy in that regard.”
Joan Meyer, who died about a day after cops raided her home. Her son, Eric, says the stress killed her. Mark Reinstein/Shutterstock
The county attorney later retracted the warrant and admitted that police had lacked sufficient evidence to do the search.
But the Marion Police Department has defended its actions, saying federal protections didn’t cover the journalists because they were suspected of criminal activity.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation took control of the case earlier this month. No arrests have been made.
Several town residents said they’d no longer patronize Newell’s restaurants, which includes Kari’s Kitchen (pictured). Kari’s kitchen
However, the well may already be poisoned for Newell, who also owns a cafe named Kari’s Kitchen in the town of about 2,000.
“After what she has done, I’m not going to go to her place any more,” Jack Webb, an 88-year-old who’s lived in Marion for more than five decades, told The Star. “And there’s about 100 people telling me the same thing.”
Lloyd Meir, 77, expressed similar disdain for Newell – as well as the police chief, the mayor and other city leaders, The Star said.
A floral arrangement in memory of Joan Meyer at the Marion County Record newspaper earlier this month.ZUMAPRESS.com
“They need to pack their bags and hit the road,” he told the paper.
“What they did to that newspaper is pathetic. And to [Eric Meyer] and his mother: Hell, they killed her. They need to go to the penitentiary. She needs to go with them.”