LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — A manhunt for a 33-year-old sought in connection with the disappearance of an Arkansas real estate agent ended with his arrest Monday, police say.
The Little Rock Police Department arrested Arron Lewis, of Jacksonville, Arkansas, after an arrest warrant issued Sunday said he was charged with kidnapping. The warrant provided no other details, but Lt. Carl Minden with Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office said Lewis was a suspect in the disappearance of Beverly Carter.
Carter went to show a home in the city of Scott on Thursday. She then vanished.
Police haven’t said how they linked Lewis to Carter or how they tracked him down, but they say Lewis left a hospital Sunday without notifying police, while he was a person of interest in her disappearance.
Lewis, who was on parole, was in a traffic accident Sunday, and police arrived to find his automobile on top of a concrete culvert, according to an accident report from the sheriff’s office.
Lewis told police that a vehicle, which he couldn’t describe, had run him off the road. But a witness told police that he was behind Lewis before the accident and “Lewis was traveling at a high rate of speed prior to the crash,” the report says.
Another witness told police that “the Lewis vehicle was going ‘so fast’ prior to the curve and she further stated that she observed the Lewis vehicle ‘fishtail’ around the curve, going into the ditch,” according to the report.
Paramedics took Lewis to Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock. A deputy followed the ambulance to the hospital to issue Lewis a citation for careless driving as well as not wearing his seat belt, because there was evidence Lewis hit the windshield during the crash, the report says.
At that time, Lewis was a person of interest in the Carter investigation, but he was not under arrest, Minden said.
“While at the hospital and undergoing tests, Mr. Lewis left the hospital. He was not under the guard of law enforcement at that time due to not having any criminal charges at that point,” the lieutenant said in a statement.
The warrant charging him with kidnapping was issued later Sunday, he said.
Dozens of volunteers — as many as 200, according to authorities — spent their Sunday searching for the missing woman in the Little Rock area. They were to resume their search Monday.
The mysterious disappearance of the 49-year-old resonated among fellow real estate agents, who posted their fears on a Facebook page set up for sharing information about her case.
Carter’s last phone call to her husband came Thursday afternoon, telling him the address where she would be. When hours went by with no further word from her, Carl Carter says he “knew something was wrong.”
Before calling authorities, Carl Carter went to the address of the home Beverly Carter was showing and saw her brown Cadillac parked there, the sheriff’s office said.
Noticing the property was open, the husband entered and searched for his wife without success, according to the sheriff’s office.
There has been activity on her cell phone since she disappeared, Minden said.
Beverly Carter, who according to her employer’s website has been married for 34 years and has four grandchildren, was last seen wearing a black sleeveless shirt and red capris.
The search has focused on an area of flat farmland and swamp around the Arkansas River, Minden said.
The sheriff’s office has asked all owners of large tracts of land in the Scott area to search their properties.
“I feel like I’m in a fog, or a horrible nightmare from which I can’t awaken,” Beverly Carter’s son, also named Carl, wrote on a Facebook post. “She needs us, and we must continue to pray (and) brainstorm ways to find her.”
The elder Carl Carter told CNN affiliate KARK-TV that “I would just like to have my wife back.”
The social media hashtag #FindBeverly has gained steam, and the Facebook page about her disappearance was followed by more than 28,000 people as of Monday afternoon.
Police say Lewis’ Monday arrest isn’t his first run-in with police. In addition to any charges he may face in Carter’s disappearance, he has a criminal history in northwest Arkansas that includes felony theft of property, obstruction of government operations, failure to appear and unlawful removal of a theft device, Minden said in a statement.
He’s also faced charges from the Kansas City police and the Utah Department of Corrections, he said.