Two Homicides: Found in the Backyard

Note: A special thank you to Granny who has graciously commented and otherwise offered encouragement for many years.

Long time reader and online friend "Granny" from Central Arkansas has kept me updated on an unfolding pair of homicide cases there:

BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) -- Authorities say one of the bodies found buried at a Traskwood home is Joe Lee Richards, Jr. Homeowner Marissa Wright is under arrest.

Capital murder charges have been filed against Wright, 50, in relation to the disappearance of Richards. She was taken into custody without incident at a local hospital.

In 1989, Wright was arrested for murder but was turned into a state's witness against Frank Pilcher who is serving a life sentence for the murder of Jeff Rhoades.

In a press release from Benton Police, this investigation centered on Richard's missing person report filed in October of 2010. His family was concerned when he disappeared without a trace and leaving his personal belongings behind. Recent information recently let them to the home in Traskwood...

The second body was later identified Arkansas resident Randal Anderson--who sadly had not been reported missing by anyone.

Not many details had been released by prosecutors, so the public was just going to have to wait until the court hearings began to learn more details.

That is until investigative journalist Mara Leveritt became involved.

The murders reminded her of the unsolved murders of teens Don Henry and Keven Ives, also from Central Arkansas.

Two murders that she had detailed in her 2001 book, The Boys on the Tracks.

With Henry and Ives, the teens appeared to have been struck by a train. 

With the deaths appearing to be drug related and not appearing to be related to foul play, authorities classified the incidents as "accidental" and closed the cases.

And they stayed that way until the victims' parents had the bodies exhumed and independent autopsies were conducted.

Remind anyone of the Nichole LaDue January case?

Anyway, the fresh set of eyes came to a very different conclusion: these were not accidental deaths but homicides.

The police reopened the investigations, but unfortunately they remained unsolved.

So flash forward to now--journalist Ms. Leveritt filed a petition under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act to view the search warrants involved in the Marissa Wright arrest.

After being initially denied, her request was granted.

She examined the documents, and made them available.

And now, the public knows quite a bit about what is believed to have happened at Ms. Wright's home including:

1) How does a smaller person move a 6'2, 200+ lbs. man?

2) How did police learn about the homicides?

3) What did the accused woman do when she learned that authorities were serving search warrants on her property?

4) How do authorities believe the victims died?

The answers to all of these questions and more are available on Mara Leveritt's site here.


Why do I believe releasing information like this to the public important?


Defendant Marissa "Rissa" Wright is accused of two murders.

She was allegedly involved in another several years ago, but acted as a "state's witness" to testify for the prosecution.

It leads one to ask--how many others are there?

Since US law enforcement is comprised of 17,000+ agencies, it is difficult to share information adequately--though information exchange has improved greatly in the past few decades.

Therefore, the more information available to the public, the better the chance that someone will see a similarity to another unsolved case and perhaps link a detail to an action by Wright.

The more connections for law enforcement investigating unsolved missing persons or homicide cases, the better.


Update: A couple of days ago, a second individual, Jay Beeson, was charged in the death of Anderson.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Beeson is currently on federal parole from a 1991 2nd degree murder conviction.


The Blonde Duck said...

I'm glad she's on parole now!

Anvilcloud said...

A unique blog. I've read the first page, and you've got everything from art objects to criminal investigations to toilet seats. Something for everybody. :)

Bob G. said...

I guess what bothers me, is the fact that someone (anyone) can go missing and NOIT BE NOTCIED...

Have we become that callous a species, or that diverted by entertainment, that we ignore our fellow man (even when they disappear)?

That speaks volumes to me.

Good post.

Stay safe.

Christina Lee said...

WHOA! Fascinating!! And what Bob had to say is sad (but maybe true)!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Those are some interesting connections.

Lydia Kang said...

Ugh, what horrible things. I do appreciate how you bring light on these events with your clarity and perspective.

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

I'm so glad they made the info available to the public. I agree, it does make one wonder about other cases.

Michael Offutt said...

Television makes crime scene investigation and proving innocence vs. guilt look so streamlined and neat. The real thing as you illustrate on your blog is a chaotic mess oftentimes with information crossing wires and people going off track to nothing but dead ends. Interesting stuff.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Wow, REALLY interesting blog! I was a criminal justice major and topics like this have always been an interest of mine. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for the comment.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Wow. Some of those stories are the things of movies (or nightmares)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

It's sad when someone can go missing and it goes unreported. Sad but not surprising.

Carol Kilgore said...

How sad no one noticed the man was missing. Like that little girl in North Carolina.

rachelsjunkinthetrunk said...

With modern technology today why is it so difficult the different agencies to share information adequately?

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the comments all.

@Anvilcloud: Yeah, I've been blogging with no clear direction for years now.

@ Rachels...: Good question. I think it is a matter of having so many different types of sizes of law enforcement agencies that they have different preferences for communication (some are more technology-friendly than others).

Also, leadership plays a role in info sharing--good and bad. If the agency sees letting others know about case specifics they can prioritize it. If those in charge do not value sharing and see it more as a source of power (we have it and you don't), then communications will obviously be lacking.