Kalispell Women Admit to Locking Children in Basement Room

Amy Lynn Newman and Crystal Marie Mears pleaded guilty to criminal endangerment on Wednesday

By Justin Franz
Amy Newman appears in Flathead County District Court on June 16. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon.

Two Kalispell women have admitted to regularly locking their adoptive children in a basement.

Amy Lynn Newman, 46, and Crystal Marie Mears, 37, each pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal endangerment on Sept. 7, nearly four months after they were charged in Flathead County District Court.

According to court documents, staff with the Department of Child and Family Services removed four children from a home in Kalispell in March. The children were removed from the home after staff members learned that Newman and Mears were allegedly locking three of the children, ages 9, 11, and 12, in the basement on a regular basis.

After the children were removed from the home, the Kalispell Police Department conducted a search and found numerous locks on the basement door, including padlocks and zip-ties. They also found a bucket that the children allegedly used to go to the bathroom, according to charging documents.

During separate interviews, Newman and Mears allegedly told police that they both kept the kids locked in the basement at night.

At the change of plea hearing on Sept. 7, Newman testified that only the two boys, ages 11 and 9, were regularly locked in their rooms in the basement to keep the rest of the family safe. Newman said the boys frequently tried to set fires and one of them tried to choke their sister with cat litter.

Newman testified that the girl was never locked in her room in the basement.

In the agreement signed this month, Newman and Mears both pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal endangerment. The third count of criminal endangerment was dropped. The women will be sentenced on Nov. 10.

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