NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Nearly four years ago detectives searched a Norfolk hotel looking for clues in the disappearance of a college freshman who was later found dead 50 miles outside the city.
In recent months, Norfolk officers filed a search warrant seeking electronic evidence from an item they found during that 2015 search that could link the teen’s stepfather to her death.
Anjelica “AJ” Hadsell’s body was discovered partially buried in a ditch about a month after she disappeared from her Norfolk home on March 2, 2015. A medical examiner determined the 18-year-old died as a result of homicidal violence and acute heroin poisoning.
No one has ever been arrested in AJ Hadsell’s death — but last year, court documents confirmed her stepfather, Wesley Hadsell, had become a person of interest to police. A GPS system found in Wesley Hadsell’s work van led police to her body, which was dumped behind an abandoned home in Southampton County.
Also inside the van: A dirty shovel, gloves and a roll of duct tape.
On March 11, 2015, police searched a hotel room at the America’s Best Value Inn where Wesley Hadsell was staying because his wife had become upset about his cocaine use. Officers took “a number” of items from the room, including a Sony PlayStation Vita gaming system that AJ Hadsell’s mother identified as belonging exclusively to Wesley Hadsell, court documents state.
Recently, police took out a search warrant for the gaming system. They seized electronic records looking for evidence — like pictures, videos and emails — that might link Wesley Hadsell to his stepdaughter’s disappearance, according to court documents.
“It has been my experience that individuals often communicate with their victims via e-mail and through other computer-based programs,” a Norfolk officer wrote in a search warrant. “In addition, a suspect’s electronic equipment often has digital evidence of crimes committed by the suspect.”
Norfolk police declined to comment on the status of the investigation, and Wesley Hadsell has not been charged with AJ Hadsell’s death.
He is currently in jail on a federal weapons charge. He told 10 On Your Side that he broke into a home to investigate his stepdaughter’s disappearance and found her jacket.
He was convicted of being a felon in possession of ammunition and sentenced to 20 years in prison; however, an appeals court vacated that sentence in June of 2017.