MH man with long history of arrests back in jail

Photo: Stephan Richard Whaples

A Mountain Home man with a long history of run-ins with the law is back in jail, charged with drug-related offenses and violating parole.

A March 16 trial date had been set for 31-year-old Stephan Richard Whaples. At the time he was arrested Sunday, he was free on bond pending that trial.

The trial would have dealt with earlier charges against Whaples, including being a felon in possession of a weapon, possessing drug paraphernalia and fleeing. He is being charged as a habitual offender that could add time to whatever sentence he is given.

Whaples has an extensive criminal record, along with an established habit of running from law enforcement. He was the subject of four manhunts in less than a year during a period in 2011-2012.

The manhunts have involved officers from multiple agencies, roadblocks, tracking dogs and the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office helicopter.

In his latest disappearing act, Whaples was on parole from an earlier conviction, when he broke off contact with his parole officer and was declared a fugitive in late February last year.

A fugitive task force from Arkansas Community Corrections spotted him at a house on Wild Fern Lane south of Norfork June 5 last year. The home was identified as the known address of 55-year-old James Loosey — the initial target of the task force search — and 36-year-old Randi Dodd.

As soon as the officers began to approach the residence, they reported seeing Whaples speed away on an all terrain vehicle after spying officers approaching the residence.

He did not surface again until two days later, when a tip led officers to 35-year-old Brandi Withrow’s residence along State Highway 5 South.

Photo: Brandi Withrow

One of the officers reported seeing a male standing on the back porch. He is reported to have pulled his shirt up over his head before retreating into the residence.

Officers went to the front door and were greeted by a young boy. He was asked if his parents were at home and, according to the probable cause affidavit, Withrow came to the door wrapped in a towel. She said she had been getting into the shower when the officers knocked.

Withrow is reported to have denied Whaples was in the residence and said she had not seen him for some time.

Whaples showed himself when he made an unsuccessful attempt to escape out a back window of the house. After a short time, officers reported he walked into the kitchen area of the residence, gave up and was taken into custody.

Officers found rifles and drug paraphernalia in the home. Both Whaples and Withrow have been convicted of multiple felonies making it illegal for them to be around weapons.

Withrow was arrested along with Whaples. She was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and drug paraphernalia, hindering apprehension by providing false information and for violating probation handed down in an earlier case.

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