Alabama prosecutors to seek death penalty against woman accused of pushing victim off cliff

By William Thornton

Alabama woman (LEFT) Loretta Kay Carr, accused of killing a mother by pushing her off a cliff, is facing the death penalty. The 44-year-old and her daughter (RIGHT) Jessie Kelly, 22, were both charged with murder in June 2023, nearly two years after Mary Elizabeth Isbell, 38, went missing.

DeKalb County prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a woman who they say pushed another woman off a cliff, where her body remained undiscovered for almost two years.

Loretta Kay Carr, 45, of Fort Payne, was charged last year with capital murder-kidnapping in the October 2021 death of Mary Elizabeth Isbell. Her daughter, Jessie Eden Kelly, 22, faces the same charge.

According to court documents, Ninth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Summer Summerford stated the death penalty is warranted by the “aggravating and mitigating circumstances” in the case.

The remains of Isbell, who had been reported missing for almost two years, were identified June 30, 2023, on what would have been her 39th birthday, after their discovery in Little River Canyon National Park.

Isbell was reported missing by her ex-husband on Dec. 27, 2021. Detectives with Hartselle police used phone records to determine she had been living in the DeKalb County area on Lookout Mountain.

The discovery of her remains came after a tip in June 2023. Authorities believe Isbell’s death occurred sometime between the evening of Oct. 18 and the early morning of Oct. 19, 2021.

The three women knew each other through a man, an investigator said following Carr’s arrest.

At a press conference following the identification of Isbell’s body, investigators said they suspected her remains were somewhere in the area of the park, but they were unsure of its exact location. They found it after receiving information from one of the suspects, an investigator said in June.