ARRESTS MADE IN LIVESTOCK THEFTS, CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
Investigator Glenn Wheeler says three people are in custody in Newton County following thefts of livestock and cruelty to animals. The Newton County Sheriff’s Office began receiving reports of missing calves and goats several weeks ago. One resident was able to provide a partial description of a vehicle seen in the area of one of the thefts close to the time his calves went missing. A hidden game camera later captured the vehicle back in the area.
Newton County Investigators were able to develop leads based information from the community and subsequently interviewed an individual who admitted to being involved in the thefts. He informed Investigators of at least one more theft of goats that had not yet been reported.
During that interview it was learned that some of the calves had been transported out of the county and that at least one calf had been killed and left at the scene to make it appear as if predators had gotten the others.
Investigators were able to recover calves belonging to two different Newton County residents at a farm in Searcy County and goats belonging to a third Newton County Farmer, who had not yet reported the goats stolen, were found at a suspect’s house near Piercetown.
Arrested were 36-year-old Curt Young of Piercetown, 37-year-old Tiffany Day of Harrison and 20-year-old Zachary Johnson of Western Grove. All three were charged with Theft of Livestock and Cruelty to Animals. Two vehicles which were used in the thefts and transport of the stolen livestock were also seized.
Investigator Wheeler said, “This was a classic case of good investigations paired with involvement by members of the community working together to solve a case that would have otherwise been difficult to clear.”
Sheriff Keith Slape said, “being a cattle farmer myself, I know the impact losing calves can have, whether by predation, illness or theft. The Sheriff’s Office can’t do much about the first two, but we take thefts very seriously and work hard to try and solve these cases. I’m just glad we were able to recover the livestock we did and we intend to send a clear message to any future livestock thieves by the charges we filed and the seizure of two vehicles involved in the thefts.”
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HIKERS FIND BODY NEAR HEMMED-IN-HOLLOW
By: Investigator Glenn Wheeler
Newton County Sheriff's Office
Investigator Glenn Wheeler with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office says their office received a call early Sunday afternoon that two hikers had possibly found a body in the area above Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls.
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office notified the National Park Service and Deputies and Rangers, along with the Newton County Coroner’s Office responded to the scene for an initial investigation.
Upon arrival authorities found Marvin Alexander Lopez, aged 27 of Rogers, Arkansas, deceased. There were no obvious signs of significant trauma and the cause of death was not immediately apparent. A car belonging to Mr. Lopez was located at the Compton Trailhead for Hemmed-in-Hollow.
After speaking with the Rogers Police Department, it was discovered that a family member had contacted them on February 21st to report that Mr. Lopez had not been heard from since February 19th and the agency had issued a bulletin asking area agencies to look for Lopez and check his welfare.
Sheriff Keith Slape said, “at this point there is nothing to indicate foul play, but Mr. Lopez’s body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The investigation is ongoing and we won’t know much more until we get the Medical Examiner’s report. Our hearts go out to Mr. Lopez’s family and we hope to be able to provide them with answers soon.””
Investigator Wheeler stated “we are working this case jointly with the National Park Service and hope to have more information once we hear back from the Crime Lab.” Wheeler went on to say that Lopez was located in a rugged part of the area near Hemmed-in-Hollow and the recovery was a huge joint effort by several agencies that took several hours. “We simply could not have safely gotten him out without the help of a lot of folks that we can always depend on to help out when we need them. They are invaluable to us.” Tri-County Search and Rescue, Newton County Search and Rescue, Buffalo National River Search and Rescue and area volunteer fire departments assisted with the recovery of Lopez’s body.
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Investigator Glenn Wheeler with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office says Newton County Deputies, a DTF Investigator and a State Trooper were involved in an armed standoff near Mt. Judea on Tuesday morning.
Wheeler says authorites were notified during the early morning hours of a disturbance at a residence near Mt. Judea. Officers were told Jeremey Freeman, aged 30 of Mt. Judea, had became angry at his brother. The brother, along with his girlfriend and their child were in a bedroom with the door closed when Freeman fired a shotgun through the bedroom door toward the couple and child. Freeman already had two outstanding felony warrants for his arrest.
The victims were able to escape the house, but Freeman, still armed with a sawed-off shotgun, barricaded himself in the house. Freeman had also recently gone on a Facebook rant, which he later took down, threatening the life of Sheriff Slape and stating he had a rifle and would stack Deputies in the yard like firewood if they came to his house, so area Law Enforcement was familiar with him.
Newton County Deputies, an Arkansas State Trooper and an Investigator with the 14th Judicial District’s Drug Task Force responded to the residence and were able to set up a perimeter. Deputies outside the residence were able to make contact with Freeman using loud speakers and Sheriff Keith Slape was able to make contact with him by phone.
Deputies and Sheriff Slape negotiated with Freeman for some time but Freeman was adamat he wasn’t coming out and did not recognize the authority of the Law Enforcement Officers or judges. Freeman could be seen at a window of the residence and could sometimes be seen carrying a shotgun and barricading the door.
After drawn-out negotations, Freeman came outside and was taken into custody with little incident. Officers were then able to check the house for any other victims. No one else was inside, but officers located an illegally modified sawed off shotgun, that was later determined to be stolen, lying beneath the window where Freeman had been interacting with officers. Officers additionally found where he had fired through the door at the family members.
A subsequent search of the residence yielded narcotics and drug paraphernalia. In addition to the outstanding warrants, Freeman also faces charges of 3 counts of Aggravated Assault, Felony Terroristing Threatening, Theft by Receiving, Possession of a Schedule II Narcotic, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Felony Endangering the Welfare of a Minor, Criminal Use of a Prohibited Weapon, Disorderly Conduct and Failure to Submit to Arrest. Freeman is being held in the Newton County Jail.
Investigator Wheeler said “I’m glad Jeremy decided to come out peacefully and no one was injured. Watching his mannerisms and listening to his rants at us, in addition to him having the weapon, it could have easily gone bad. All the officers on scene and the Sheriff negotiating on the phone all did a great job and showed great professionalism to bring it to a peaceful ending.”
Sheriff Slape echoed Wheeler’s thoughts. “I’m proud of my guys and the other agencies involved. Everyone came together and executed a plan that kept the public and Mr. Freeman safe.”
Wheeler added “This is the third standoff or hostage situation Newton County has had in just over a month.” END OF RELEASE.
Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape said that 51 year old Jerry Randall Kent of Mt Judea was arrested for manufacture of a controlled substance, marijuana,July 13. Newton County deputies, Arkansas Game and Fish Officers, 14th Judicial Drug Task Force and DEA were conducting a drug eradication mission and found the marijuana being cultivated in Mr. Kent's yard. Kent was released on a $5000 bond.
Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape said that Amanda Jean Louise Munday, 26 year old, of Western Grove, was arrested for 2 counts of Domestic Battery frist degree, endangering welfare of a minor, endangering welfare of elderly, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, and disorederly conduct. Slape stated that the Newton County Sheriff's Office received a call about and incident that was occurring on Hwy 123 south of Western Grove. Deputy Marc Lowery responded and found Ms. Munday breaking the windows out of the house of her grandparents. After an altercation with Munday Deputy Lowery found an 89 year old woman injured by Munday and a 9 month old baby that had been injured by Munday. Sheriff Slape said " It is eggregious enough to do this type of act but when you inflict this type of injuries to an elderly person and an infant then you have crossed a whole different line." Slape said that this was not the first encounter that the sheriff's office has had with this individual. Munday was taken to the Newton County Jail and held on a $50,000 bond.
Investigator Glenn Wheeler said the Newton County Sheriff’s Office had been investigating a report of a sexual assault last weekend after a woman who was housesitting in the eastern part of the county walked into her underage niece’s bedroom around 5:00 A.M. to find a nude man in bed with the niece. She stated the man appeared to be at least in his thirties. The nude man fled out the window and escaped.
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office, the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division and Grandma’s House Children’s Advocacy Center began an investigation and interviewed the victim. It was learned that the girl had been in contact with the man, chatting and sending pictures online, both on Facebook Messenger and adult oriented sites that he helped facilitate her becoming a member of. The correspondence indicated the man had driven to the residence and entered the young girl’s bedroom through a window he had instructed her to leave unlocked.
It was discovered that shortly after he fled the house, he contacted her again, via Facebook Messenger. Investigators were given access to her account and continued to correspond with the suspect, who had not yet been identified.
The suspect later set up a meeting with who he believed to be the girl at a specific location and gave a description of the vehicle he would be driving. Investigators set up surveillance in the area and continued to correspond with the suspect.
Shortly after 3:00 A.M. Saturday, June 10th, a vehicle fitting the description given arrived at the agreed upon meeting location and was stopped by Investigators. The vehicle contained specific items the suspect had stated he would bring.
31-year-old Christopher Collins of Mountain Home was taken into custody and was transported to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office. Collins will be charged with Sexual Assault in the 4th Degree, Residential Burglary and Internet Stalking of a Child. More charges may be pending once the investigation is continued.
Investigator Wheeler stated “Reading the correspondence between the actual girl and Mr. Collins was both sickening and scary. The way he was able to convince her to leave her window unlocked so a 31-year-old man she had never met could sneak in and have sex with her is just unsettling. The potential of what could have happened to this young lady is wide open. Parents really need to be very aware of what their children are doing online.”
Sheriff Keith Slape said “This operation was a great example of agencies working together and having the dedication and patience to spend several late nights seeing this through. It is also a message to sexual predators that law enforcement in Newton County is willing to put in the time and effort needed to stop them from preying on our kids.”
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division, Grandma’s House Children’s Advocacy Center, The 14th Judicial District Drug Task Force and the Grove Township Constable. The Arkansas Attorney General’s Office will also be asked to help as the investigation moves forward. --END OF RELEASE--
Investigator Glenn Wheeler with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office said the search of the Buffalo River for 65-year-old Rick Norber has ended after searchers located his body today. Efforts had continued to locate Norber throughout recent days since he went missing on April 26th.
A jet boat owned by the Hasty Volunteer Fire Department began working upstream from Pruitt this morning with one member of the Hasty Fire Department and an employee of the National Park Service on board, while National Park Service employees began working downstream from Kyles’s Landing in paddle crafts.
At approximately 10:48 A.M. the searchers in the Hasty Fire Department boat notified authorities they had located Norber. Norber was approximately four miles from where he was last seen.
Norber went missing on the morning of Wednesday, April 26th when his party was trapped by flood waters in an area known as “Hell’s Half Acre” above Kyles Landing.
Inv. Wheeler said “This is an unfortunate ending, but at least it brings a bit of closure for the family and all the searchers who have poured so much into the effort to find Rick. It still amazes me how the volunteer spirit comes out in our community. We simply couldn’t do this without our volunteers and the other agencies we work with.”
Sheriff Keith Slape echoed Wheeler’s sentiments in a statement “I’m relieved that we were finally able to locate Mr. Norber. Thanks to all the searchers and agencies involved, his family can now begin the process of making arrangements. It lifts the veil of uncertainty that goes with having a loved one that can’t be located.”
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office had been joined throughout the search by the National Park Service, Harrison Fire Department, Newton County OEM, Tri-County Search and Rescue, Mennonite Disaster Services, Christian Aid Ministries, The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and their dive team, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Mt. Sherman Volunteer Fire Department, Hasty Volunteer Fire Department, Personnel from Lost Valley Canoe Rental, The Arkansas Canoe Club, Carroll County OEM, K-9 units from around the state and the American Red Cross.
Inv. Glenn Wheeler with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office said the search of the Buffalo River for 65 year old Rick Norber has been suspended due to impending weather and water conditions.
“Our area is extremely saturated after all the recent rains and a small shower upstream of the operations earlier today caused a two inch rise in the river at the Ponca river gauge. We ceased operations a little before dark this evening and, if we get the rain they are forecasting, we won’t be able to resume searching for several days. We just can’t justify putting searchers on the water if we get the rise in water levels we are expecting.” Wheeler continued “Once the river has crested and is back at safer levels, we will resume searching on a smaller scale.”
Norber went missing early Wednesday morning on a canoeing trip when his party was trapped by flood waters in an area known as “Hell’s Half Acre” above Kyles Landing.
Sheriff Keith Slape said “It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to find Rick, but these conditions are just beyond our control. Investigator Wheeler has been in contact with the family and they understand the situation. Our hearts go out to them.”
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office had been joined by the National Park Service, Harrison Fire Department, Newton County OEM, Tri-County Search and Rescue, Mennonite Disaster Services, Christian Aid Ministries, The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and their dive team, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Mt. Sherman Volunteer Fire Department, Hasty Volunteer Fire Department, Personnel from Lost Valley Canoe Rental, The Arkansas Canoe Club, Carroll County OEM, K-9 units from around the state and the American Red Cross.
Inv. Glenn Wheeler with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office said the search continued Friday morning near Kyle’s Landing for a canoeist that went missing late Wednesday morning.
Ricky “Rick” Norber, aged 65 from the St. Louis area was with a group of three other canoeists that had camped overnight along the river on Tuesday night. Rising waters from heavy rains trapped the group who attempted to float out to safety Wednesday morning.
River levels have continued to drop overnight, but impending rain threatens to cause river levels to rise to above what was present at the time Norber went missing.
Searchers from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Harrison Fire Department, Tri-County Search and Rescue, Newton County Office of Emergency Services, National Park Service, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Mennonite Disaster Services, Christian Aid Ministries, The Arkansas Canoe Club and local volunteers are involved in the search and the American Red Cross is on scene assisting with support of the searchers.
Inv. Wheeler said “we have more people actually in the water today. The dropping water levels are allowing us to cover more area that had been underwater before. We have some highly trained and well equipped people who can handle being in swift water.” Wheeler went on to say “The dropping water in both good and bad. While it allows us to operate more safely and cover more area, but it begins to limit our ability to use motorized boats.”
Ground searchers and dog teams are still being utilized and incident managers are in contact with the National Weather Service and other outlets to monitor upcoming weather. Searchers are also keeping a close eye on river level gauges upstream of operations in case rising water forces searchers to evacuate the river.