The search for a missing man ended Saturday, April 9, 2016
From the desk of Sheriff Scott Bradley
The search for a missing man ended Saturday, April 9, 2016. At approximately 10:20 a.m. Stone County Sheriffs Department contacted the Van Buren County Sheriffs Department to inform them that there had been a body discovered in the Red River in the Arlburg area. Stone County Officials asked for the Assistance of the Arkansas State Police in the recovery.
The case stems from a series of thefts of vehicles and a burglary in Clinton in the morning hours of April 1, 2016. Clinton Police Department reported a stolen vehicle, a 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe, blue in color, had been stolen along with a wallet that contained $650 in cash. Subsequent investigation revealed the theft of a Semi truck and another truck, all stolen earlier this same day.
On April 1, 2016, at 9:26 a.m., A Van Buren County Sheriff’s Deputy in the Shirley area came in contact with the stolen vehicle on Shelby Road. The vehicle fled from the Deputy with the Deputy losing sight of the vehicle. Believing that the stolen vehicle may have turned off onto Silver Tree Road, Deputies responded to the Banner Mountain area. The vehicle was not seen on Banner Mountain. Responding Deputies that had driven to the Hwy 110 area in case the suspect had crossed Shady Grove Road came in contact with the stolen vehicle who fled from pursuing Deputies to Angora Mountain road. Suspect then drove into Stone County by traveling down Angora Mountain Road and across the low-water bridge at Arlburg. The pursuing Deputy followed down to the river crossing and followed the slide marks turning right onto Meadow Creek road. The pursuing Deputy had a flat tire a short distance down Meadow Creek road. At this time, other responding Deputies continued on down Meadow Creek road but had no further sightings of the vehicle.
At approximately 10:30, the Deputy that was changing the flat tire reported that the suspect vehicle had driven past him at a high rate of speed and refused to stop. Suspect Vehicle was driving back toward the Arlburg Bridge. A few minutes later, another Deputy who was stationed at the Angora Mtn. and Meadow Creek Rd. area radioed that the vehicle made it by him and refused to stop. That Deputy then drove up following the slide marks to where he came upon the suspect vehicle (approximately 3 miles) at the top of Angora Mountain. The Suspect Vehicle had apparently lost control in a muddy area of the road, slid into a field where it hit a tree and became stuck in a muddy area. At 10:33 the responding Deputy caught sight of the suspect who had made it approximately 150 feet from the vehicle. Suspect ran approximately 50-75 additional feet where last seen and disappeared in the woods. No Deputies could make a positive identification of the suspect and were able to radio only a vague description of the suspect. At that time, Law Enforcement had three possible suspects. Stone County as well as Searcy County Sheriff’s Offices were notified and came to the area to assist. A perimeter was set up along the road side on top of Angora Mountain and the Arlburg Bridge.
The Calico Rock K-9 Unit and a search/track dog was called to assist with the tracking of the suspect a short time later. Searchers entered the area at around 12:20 p.m. Law Enforcement assisted by Game Wardens with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission established a perimeter on the roads along the river The search team followed what was believed to be the suspects trail down the ravine and back to the Red River. The distance to the river can only be estimated but it took searchers approximately 30 minutes to make it to the Red River. They followed the trail approximately ½ to 1 mile along the rivers side, then into a field and then back to another river crossing. Searchers followed the trail approximately 1/4 – 1/2 mile down the rivers side where they lost the track at the rivers edge. Searchers then split up where two searchers crossed the river and two went back out and down a road that came out just north of the Arlburg Bridge. Searchers resumed the search on the west side of the river but had no specific place to start due to not knowing the direction the suspect took at the river. It was evident that the suspect looked to cross the river early on due to the track immediately going to the waters edge. The searchers never saw the suspect during the search. It is believed that suspect had made it to the river quite some time prior to searchers due to the search starting just under two hours from the time suspect entered the woods. It was believed at that time that the suspect had made it across the river and was out of the area.
Searchers concluded the search on the West side of the river and went back to the East side of the river. Searchers looked for approximately 300 yards on the east side and down river. Reports of the suspect being in the area led to a search of a house with no contact. The Sheriff’s Department received an anonymous call that the suspect had made a telephone call and he was “safe”. The search of the area was concluded at approximately 5:30 p.m.
The Van Buren County Sheriffs Department received a call of a missing man on the night of Sunday, April 3, 2016. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department, Clinton Police Department and the Stone County Sheriff’s Department assisted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Law Enforcement, organized a multi-agency search the following week. On Monday April 4, 2016 all “tips” or alleged sightings were investigated. No persons were found to have any credible information. On Tuesday, April 5, 2016 Rescue Searchers with the Van Buren County Rescue Squad searched the river on personal watercraft and on foot from the Arlburg Bridge upriver to the area where the search ended the previous Friday. Searchers were unable to locate anything. On Wednesday, April 6, 2016 the Stone County Sheriff’s Department requested assistance from the Izard Co. Sheriff’s Department Dive team to search the river area. Divers searched the area where the track was lost and approximately 300 feet down river. Divers were unable to recover any evidence of person(s) in the river. On Thursday April, 7, 2016 the Stone County Sheriff’s Department conducted an aerial search of the Red River and the surrounding area with the assistance of a Search Helicopter. The aerial search did not reveal anything or any signs of person(s) in the river or surrounding area.
All search resources were exhausted. Law Enforcement believed that the suspect had made it out of the area.
On Saturday April 9, 2016 AGFC Enforcement reported to the Stone County Sheriff’s Dept that a Game Warden had discovered the body of a white male in the Red River just down from the search area. The Stone County Sheriff’s Department and Arkansas State Police processed the scene. All pertinent evidence will be sent by the Arkansas State Police to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for investigation. At the time of the press release the identification of the recovered body had not been established.