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Woman accused of murdering 5th husband, now police reopening her ex-fiance’s shooting death

Left: Sarah Jean Hartsfield is wearing an orange-and-white striped shirt and holding an identifying placard with her name and booking information in is. She has long brown curly hair and is looking at the camera without smiling. Right: a white car from the Chambers County Sheriff's Office is parked in front of the Hartsfield home.

Left: Sarah Jean Hartsfield is seen in a booking photo. Right: the Hartsfield home (via Chambers County Sheriff’s Office).

Officials have reopened an investigation into the 2018 shooting death of a Minnesota man shot by a woman who is now accused of killing her fifth husband in Texas.

As Law&Crime previously reported, Sarah Hartsfield, 48, was indicted on murder charges in the death of her husband Joseph Hartsfield, who was believed to have died from a “suspicious illness.” Now, authorities in Minnesota say that they are reexamining the 2018 death of David Bragg, Sarah Hartsfield’s one-time fiance.

Hartsfield shot Bragg to death in 2018, the local news website Echo Press reported. An investigation concluded that Hartsfield, whose last name at the time was Donohue, had acted in self-defense, the report said. She was never charged.

Now, Douglas County, Minnesota, authorities have confirmed to Law&Crime that the circumstances of Bragg’s death are getting a second look.

“The investigation is considered ‘active’ again because we are following-up on new information that the Sheriff’s Office received regarding the 2018 shooting,” a spokesperson for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office told Law&Crime in an email. They were unable to comment further “pursuant to Minnesota law.”

Hartsfield has been married five times and engaged at least once, local ABC News affiliate KTRK reported. Chambers County prosecutors told the station that the investigation into Sarah Hartsfield has widened.

Chambers County District Attorney Cheryl Swope Henry has “asked the public to reach out to the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office with any information about Hartsfield’s past that may be relevant or the investigation itself,” her office announced on Facebook.

“We’re putting a puzzle together, and we need all the pieces,” Henry said. She asked for help with information regarding “any of Hartsfield’s past names, which include Sarah Smith, Sarah Knoernschild, Sarah Traxler, Sarah Donahue, and Sarah George.”

Henry is also asking for any information about “the crime itself,” the announcement said.

“When asked if Henry has seen anything like this in her nearly 30 years of prosecuting, Henry answered, ‘This is a first,'” the Facebook post said.

The DA’s office noted that the information shared with KTRK was “limited to information that was already public and information that will assist in the investigation.”

“We have a sheriff’s office that has a dogged determination in solving crimes,” Henry said. “We arrest over here, and we prosecute here.”

Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne told the station that the video of Sarah Hartsfield crying over her husband’s body shortly before his organs were harvested was merely “theatrics.”

Details of Joseph Hartsfield’s death are sparse, but KTRK reported that Joseph Hartsfield had diabetes and his insulin levels were “extremely high” hours before his wife called 911.

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