Week in Review 1-7 to 1-13

First trial scheduled in murder of Ozark County teen

The first of two planned trials in the murder of an Ozark County teenager has been set for late July. According to Springfield television station KOLR, pretrial conferences were held Friday in Greene County Circuit Court in Springfield for Rebecca Ruud and Robert Peat as they stand accused of several charges including first-degree murder in the killing of Ruud's daughter, 16-year-old Savannah Leckie, and burning her body afterward. Judge Calvin Holden ruled jury selection for Peat will begin July 30th in Cole County for an early August trial. The judge also ruled Ruud will go on trial after Peat.

Ruud and Peat, husband and wife, are both charged with murdering Leckie and disposing of her corpse. Ruud reported Leckie missing from her Theodosia-area farm July 20th. Investigators found Leckie?s burned remains on the farm August 4th. Peat is represented by James Robert Hayes.

The state is represented in both cases by Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney John Garrabrant and Assistant Attorney General Steven Mark Kretzer.

Peat and Ruud are scheduled for addition pretrial conferences May 18th.


Homeowner shoots fugitive after attempted break-in

A fugitive from Faulkner County, 55-year-old Timothy Russell Coleman, was treated for gunshot wounds to his head, side, neck, arm and hand following a homeowner in Fulton County opening fire during an attempted break-in.

Fulton County Sheriff Al Roork says his department received a call Wednesday morning at 11:47 advising someone was attempting to burn down a house along Ridge Haven Road off Worth Road.

Upon arrival at the location, a Fulton County deputy found Coleman running from the yard of the residence into the woods. The deputy gave chase but lost sight of Coleman and called for backup. Sheriff Roork says he requested a dog from the Department of Correction North Central Unit at Calico Rock. An extensive search of the area was conducted, but authorities were unable to locate Coleman.

A couple at the Ridge Haven residence told authorities they had asked Coleman, who had been an overnight guest, to leave. He became angry and told the couple he would burn down their house. Shortly after he made the threat, he went to a utility pole next to the residence and destroyed the electrical lines to the house and well.

Wednesday evening at 6:21 the Fulton County Sheriff's dispatch received a call advising Coleman had returned to the house on Ridge Haven Road, attempted to break-in and shots had been fired.

When deputies arrived, they found Coleman sitting in the road at the intersection of Worth Road and Ridge Haven. Further investigation revealed Coleman returned to the Ridge Haven residence and was reportedly attempting to push the door of the residence open with his shoulder.

The homeowner retrieved his .12 gauge shotgun, dead bolted the door and asked repeatedly who was at the door. When Coleman did not answer, the homeowner unlocked the door and pointed the weapon at Coleman. Coleman reportedly back up with his hands in the air.

The homeowner ordered Coleman to get on the ground and fired a warning shot. Coleman did not comply, and the homeowner said he reached his hand inside his coat pocket. Saying he thought Coleman was reaching for a gun, the homeowner shot him. Coleman fell to the ground and got up running from the residence to the location where sheriff's deputies found him in the road.

He was taken to the Fulton County Hospital where he was treated for gunshot wounds.

Sheriff Roork says several felony charges will be filed against Coleman. No charges are expected to be filed against the unidentified homeowner.


Two women, one local charged with sexual assault of inmate

Two women who were "contracted health providers" at the North Central Unit prison in Calico Rock were charged Thursday with sexual assault of an inmate. Carol F. Johnson, 54, of Mountain Home, and 43-year-old Sarah M. Crawford, of Golden, Colorado, were charged as a result of the state police investigation.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that according to filings in Izard County Circuit Court, 39-year-old Adam Hill sent a letter to the Arkansas Department of Correction on May 24 saying the women had sex with him while he was an inmate in late 2016.

Hill was assigned as an infirmary porter at the time, according to a probable-cause affidavit from Dennis Simons, a special agent with the Arkansas State Police.

Johnson admitted Tuesday to performing oral sex on Hill on his birthday September 9th of 2016, according to the affidavit.

Crawford admitted Wednesday to having intercourse with Hill, according to an affidavit from Simons in that case. Hill told police the intercourse occurred August 14, 2016.

According to Arkansas Code Annotated 5-14-126, a person commits sexual assault in the third degree if he engages in intercourse or "deviate sexual activity" with someone who isn't his spouse while "contracted with or otherwise providing services, supplies or supervision to an agency maintaining custody of inmates" in an Arkansas prison or jail.

Johnson and Crawford are no longer employed as contracted workers for the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Bench warrants were issued Thursday for the arrest of Johnson and Crawford. Bail was set at $5,000 for each woman.

Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the state police, said he couldn't release Hill's letter because the case is still under investigation.

Hill remains incarcerated in the state Department of Correction, but he's now in the Grimes Unit in Newport. His current prison sentence history includes convictions for theft of property, residential burglary, fleeing, forgery, theft by receiving, delivery or possession of a controlled substance, and fraudulent use of a credit card.


Details emerge on most wanted arrest, MH woman arrested in connection

Details have been released regarding the arrest of one of Baxter County's most wanted, 28-year-old David Michael Fiss. Fiss was taken into custody Thursday, nearly a month after Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery asked for the public's help in arresting him. A bench warrant had been issued for Fiss on December 28, 2017 charging him with felony and misdemeanor crimes related to multiple thefts.

A 28-year-old female, Brandy Rochelle Hughes, was also arrested yesterday in connection with the search for Fiss and faces a felony charge, along with misdemeanor charges.

According to Montgomery, Fiss was arrested after deputies acted on a citizen tip in regard to his location. The tip established Fiss was at a home on Edgehill Lane in the Jordan area. Officers from the Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, and the Arkansas Department of Corrections Canine Tracking Team went to the residence. He was found there and taken into custody.

A female, later identified as Hughes, fled from the residence when officers were arriving. The canine team tracked her for approximately two miles to another residence. They observed muddy boot prints on a door, which had been kicked open. Hughes was found hiding inside some cabinets inside the residence with the owners not home. She was taken into custody.

The warrant for Fiss was obtained as a result of investigations into multiple thefts and break-ins reported between November 28, 2017 and December 12, 2017.

On November 28, 2017, a 2011 Nissan Juke valued at $13,000 was reported to be stolen from the intersection of Dwelle Road and Highway 5 South. The vehicle had broken down and been temporarily left there.

On December 4, 2017, a report was taken from 378 Highway 177 South of the break-in of a shop building and theft of tools and the attempted break-in of a residence. While taking the report, the victim also told deputies he received a water bill for the previous month showing 700 gallons of water use but the residence had not been occupied during that time. The Sheriff’s Office had previously taken another report of electrical power being stolen from a home at 11168 Highway 5 South by an extension cord that had been run from the residence to a camper on the adjoining property. Fiss had been identified as a suspect in this electrical power theft, and it was thought he might be connected to the water use.

On December 8, 2017, another report was taken of the theft of a 1970 20-foot Shasta camper from 11366 Highway 5 South.

On December 9, 2017, a report was taken from 11168 Highway 5 South that Fiss had been coming to the residence uninvited for several days. The home owner discovered the screen door on the rear of the residence had been cut open and entry made. A .410 gauge shotgun and 3 pellet rifles were missing.

On December 11, 2017, Sheriff’s Investigators went to 11110 Highway 5 South in an attempt to find Fiss. They were unable to find him there, however investigators observed a camper on the property behind the residence. It was found to be the stolen Shasta camper from December 8th. Located along with the camper was the stolen Nissan from November 28th. The vehicle had been spray painted and was partially disassembled.

On December 12, 2017, another report of a residential break-in and theft was taken from the same area.

All the investigations implicated Fiss as the suspect in each, and a bench warrant was obtained from the Circuit Court for his arrest.

Fiss faces four felony counts of residential burglary, five counts of felony theft of property, one felony count of criminal mischief, felony possession of a firearm by certain persons and other misdemeanor charges. He also faces a penalty enhancement for being a habitual offender. His bond has been set at $50,000.

Fiss has at least three prior felony convictions, and has been booked into the Baxter County Detention Center a total of 22 times since 2007.

Hughes faces charges of felony residential burglary, misdemeanor criminal mischief, and failure to appear on an outstanding warrant. She has a bond of $51,715.

She has been booked into the Detention Center a total of 14 times since 2009.

During the apprehension of Fiss, Sheriff’s Investigators found additional property believed to be stolen from other cases. These included two other vehicles, a personal watercraft, and some trailers. The investigation continues, and both Fiss and Hughes will likely face additional charges as well.

Both are scheduled to appear before Baxter County Circuit Court.


Mental exam sought in Henschel case

A motion for continuance has been filed in the case of Vanessa Henschel and her defense attorney has asked the court to also order a mental evaluation to determine if she is fit to proceed in the case against her.

The 25-year-old Henschel, who has stood mainly mute during appearances in court and in meetings with her appointed defense attorney, will also be evaluated as to criminal responsibility -- meaning whether or not she was aware that her actions were wrong.

Her trial was set for Tuesday.

Henschel was arrested in early February 2016 when she is reported to have entered a room at the Town and County Motor Inn and stabbed a 23-year-old female occupant.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Henschel is alleged to have been a friend of the victim at one time.

The victim's boyfriend let Henschel into the room based on that past relationship. He then went outside to retrieve articles from a vehicle when he heard screaming coming from the room.

He ran back to the room and found Henschel astride his girlfriend stabbing her. The boyfriend struck Henschel knocking her off the victim.

The victim, who received non-life-threatening injuries, told police there was no conversation between her and Henschel prior to the attack. She said she was in bed and Henschel jumped on top of her and started stabbing her while saying "I'm sorry" during the attack.

Deputy Public Defender Mark Cooper wrote in his motion to continue Henschel's trial that he had met with her several times at the Baxter County jail and did not believe she was fit to proceed or able to be held criminally responsible for her actions. Cooper also wrote that Henschel intended to rely on the defense of mental disease or defect.

Cooper wrote that he had been informed by jail personnel and "other supervising authorities" that Henschel's behavior is what he described as "erratic and a concern".

Attempts have been made to have Henschel evaluated but it has been reported in open court that she refused to cooperate and the initial efforts were scrapped.

She has also had problems dealing with authorities in the state prison system. According to prison records, during a recent stay in the McPherson Unit in Newport, she racked up 30 disciplinary infractions.

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