A Maryland state judge died by suicide before being arrested on a federal charge of sexual exploitation of a child.

Caroline County Circuit Judge Jonathan Newell was pronounced dead at 6:43 a.m. Friday morning, the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland said in a statement.

When FBI agents went to Newell’s home to arrest him, they found him “suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the statement said.


The Maryland State Police are investigating the incident.

Newell was facing one federal charge of sexual exploitation of a child, according to court records unsealed Friday.

According to an affidavit, Maryland State Police responded to a call to Newell’s cabin on July 23 regarding a minor who found a video camera in the cabin’s bathroom and took a photo of the camera.

When investigators arrived, the first minor said that another adult and four minor males were with them at the cabin but had left.

When investigators interviewed Newell the same day, he denied noticing a camera in the bathroom. After the interview, he went to his bedroom to make calls.

While in his room, investigators said they saw Newell reach under the bed. He then placed his right hand in a fist to his mouth and a “crunch” sound could be heard from his mouth.

Investigators then found a device similar to the camera but noticed that the memory card was missing.

A CT scan taken at a hospital found an “8mm linear possibly metallic foreign body” in Newell’s small bowel. 

During a search of Newell’s home, authorities found a hard drive with numerous videos of minor males showering.

Newell was appointed to the Caroline County judgeship in 2016.

According to Capital News Service, he had been on paid leave since late July. The Maryland judiciary announced Tuesday that it would extend his leave until Sept. 23 as authorities continued their investigation.

In a statement on Friday, the judiciary said it has been informed of Newell’s death, adding it has "no further details and is unable to provide further comment."