The day after the Jackson Free Press broke the news that she had been indicted, Robbie Bell turned herself in to sheriff's deputies on Oct. 31, for her alleged role in the death of Mary Heather Spencer on Sept. 11. Jackson police arrested Bell's son, George Bell III, for Spencer's murder after a four-hour standoff at a local gas station, with him and his mother cowering in his car. A grand jury indicted the mother for accessory after the fact three weeks ago, but the papers were not served until last week.
Robbie Bell was released on $15,000 bond shortly after turning herself in.
"There was (an administrative) delay," said District Attorney Faye Peterson of the three weeks between the indictment and its service on Bell. The grand jury session in question returned hundreds of indictments, which take time to serve, she said.
Asked why her office did not announce the indictment at the time, Peterson said she saw no reason to reveal it prior to an arrest. "It's similar in posture to an undercover indictment," Peterson said.
George Bell III allegedly raped and beat Spencer to death with a flashlight in his mother's North Jackson home. Questions remain as to whether Spencer was alive for any length of time after the beating, and if so, why Robbie Bell never called 911 if reports that she was also in the home all night are true. Bell faces up to five years in prison, if convicted. Her son faces a possible death sentence, and is being held without bond.
In a previous incident, Spencer accused George Bell III of attacking her with a hammer in June 2007. That attack necessitated 57 staples in Spencer's scalp to close the wound. According to police reports obtained by the JFP, police initially classified the incident as aggravated assault, a felony, but within days Detective Ken Daniels asked to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor for reasons that are not clear. Then, weeks later, James L. Kelly, the attorney for Bell, sent a letter to JPD signed by Spencer asking that all charges be dropped.
Bell was never arrested for the June assault—although he was charged with the crime, which was still outstanding, after he turned himself in after Spencer's death.
"None of this is good news to me, because I would prefer to have my daughter back rather than worrying about who's held responsible," said Linda Francomb, Spencer's mother, who lives in Michigan. "There are many lives that have been ruined because of this."
"I guess more than anything, I feel relief that, maybe, justice is being served," Francomb said, her voice quivering. "It's not getting any easier right now."