Newly obtained documents reveal murder suspect's violent past

By Lori Brown - bio | email

DRUMMONDS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Action News 5 Investigators have uncovered exclusive details about the man accused of murdering a Mid-South woman in the woods behind her home.

New documents obtained by Action News 5 reveal the violent crime that put Rickey Bell behind bars as a teenager.

Bell, 30, is charged with the murdering and kidnapping Starr Harris, 36, a devoted wife and mother of eight children.

Harris' family owns a landscaping business and hired Bell, unaware of the violence in his past.

Bell has spent half of his life locked up. After his first four months of freedom in 15 years, investigators say he beat the Drummonds wife and mother to death, and left her in a wooded area behind her house.

Bell's serious troubles with the law began at age 15. That was when a Tipton County judge ordered him to a treatment facility in Pennsylvania, at Glen Mills School. After two years in the facility, court records say, Bell broke out.

In the facility's parking lot, Bell forcibly got into a car being driven by a woman. After a struggle, Bell, according to the court document, "began to repeatedly strike the victim about her head and face using his fists and elbows....As they struggled, the defendant began to flee in the vehicle while forcing the victim into the front passenger seat."

Several staff members tried to intervene. As one man walked toward the car, Bell sped towards him, and almost hit him.

Another staff member, "tried pulling him out of the vehicle."

While the staff member was half-way in the car, Bell sped toward another car. The document says he, "side swiped it in an attempt to injure the victim and knock him out of the car."

Bell then kicked the staff member out of the car, and took off.

The car jacked woman was still inside the car. She opened the passenger door and pleaded for Bell to stop so she could get out.

While he was going 20 miles-per-hour, Bell pushed her, causing her to fall out of the moving car.

Bell was sentenced to four to ten years in prison. He served every bit of it plus three more years for assaulting a female correctional officer and trying to escape.

In February 2010, he reached his maximum sentence and was set free. Four months later, a family's life is turned upside down, and Bell is back behind bars.

The 1997 carjacking victim still works at the Pennsylvania treatment facility, but she did not want to talk about the harrowing experience. Bell's next court date for first degree murder and kidnapping is in two weeks.

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