Dateline NBC to feature Norfolk’s A.J. Hadsell murder case in new episode this week

·2 min read

The 2015 murder of Norfolk college student Anjelica “A.J.” Hadsell will be the focus of a new episode of Dateline NBC to air Friday.

Hadsell, an 18-year-old freshman at Longwood University in Farmville, was spending her spring break at home in Norfolk when she disappeared March 2, 2015. Her body wasn’t found until five weeks later, partially buried behind an abandoned house in Southampton County, near the North Carolina border.

A jury convicted Hadsell’s adopted father, Wesley Hadsell, of murdering her and concealing her body at the end of a 2 ½-week trial earlier this year in Southampton County. In April, a judge sentenced him to the maximum allowed: life plus 15 years.

The episode — titled “The Jacket” — will be reported by Dateline correspondent Andrea Canning and broadcast at 10 p.m. Friday. Among those Canning interviewed were Wesley Hadsell, Norfolk police detective David Benjamin, and A.J. Hadsell’s friends — Corey French and Andre Barr — according to a release from NBC News.

French was someone Wesley Hadsell repeatedly pointed the finger at as a possible suspect during the search for his daughter, testimony during the trial showed. Wesley Hadsell later admitted to planting a jacket that belonged to A.J. at French’s house.

French and Barr were among multiple friends of A.J. Hadsell’s who testified about the strange behavior Wesley Hadsell displayed in the days and weeks after his daughter disappeared, and his efforts to intimidate them.

Prosecutor Toni Colvin told jurors Wesley Hadsell abducted A.J. to sexually assault her. A medical examiner determined A.J. died of acute heroin poisoning and “homicidal violence,” but wasn’t able to say if she’d been raped.

A line of bruises found across her chest were consistent with someone holding an arm across it, Colvin said, and bruising on her chin likely was caused by someone holding it tightly in their hands, possibly to force her to ingest the lethal amount of heroin.

Jane Harper, jane.harper@pilotonline.com