How the suspect in Little Rock murder was found

From Arkansas Online, news that the suspect in the Little Rock murder is also suspected of raping a woman in Marianna last spring and that DNA found at both crime scenes was what led to his arrest. The suggestion is that Anne Pressly was also raped, but so far the police haven’t said, even though she was attacked and died over a month ago. I’m not recommending this poorly written article, but, since you need to register to read it online, I’ve copied the whole thing below.

DNA, officer’s hunch led to Pressly suspect
Police: Man also tied to Marianna rape
By Noel E. Oman
Saturday, November 29, 2008

LITTLE ROCK—Matching DNA evidence in two crimes 100 miles apart and the lone detective in the Marianna Police Department helped lead Little Rock detectives to arrest Curtis Lavelle Vance in the brutal slaying of television news anchor Anne Pressly and link him to a Marianna rape, authorities said Friday.

Vance, 28, a Marianna native with ties to Little Rock, was ordered held without bail on a capital-murder charge Friday morning after a brief appearance before Little Rock District Judge Lee Munson at the Pulaski County jail.

Citing safety concerns, officials with the Pulaski County news organization representatives into the proceedings, but the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette won permission to record the Vance proceedings.

In requesting no bail, John Hout, a Pulaski County deputy prosecuting attorney, told Munson, “The victim died by his hands. It was an extremely violent and brutal attack, and [the case has] an extremely high likelihood of conviction at trial.”

On Friday, a Little Rock police spokesman declined to say that DNA found at Pressly’s home was the “forensic evidence” used to link Vance to her killing. Pressly’s mother found her beaten and unconscious onthe morning of Oct. 20 at Pressly’s home in the Heights neighborhood of Little Rock. Pressly, 26,television station KATV-TV, Channel 7, died of her injuries five days later.

“We are not confirming any part of our investigative aspects ofthis case other than it was a forensic link,” Lt. Terry Hastings said.

However, he confirmed that department detectives went to Marianna on Tuesday and “talked to Mr. Vance. He was developed as a suspect in this.” A Marianna police detective, Sgt. Carl McCree, said Friday that according to the Arkansas Crime Laboratory, DNA evidence in the Marianna rape matched evidence found in the Pressly case. That tied the two cases but didn’t identify a suspect.

The day after Little Rock detectives met with Vance, the Crime Laboratory confirmed another forensic link, Hastings said.

That finding tied Vance to the Marianna rape case, McCree said. Marianna police had issued a “hold” order, requesting that Vance,if apprehended, be detained until the Marianna department could be contacted. The Marianna department will charge him with rape and residential burglary, McCree said.

The Marianna rape occurred early in the morning of April 21, McCree said. The victim—a 32-year-old woman who, like Pressly, was white with light-colored hair, according to McCree—told police that a man with a gun threatened to kill her, then sexually assaulted her before 6 a.m. at her home in central Marianna. [LA comments: notice how the reporter uses “rape” and “sexual assault” as synonyms, whereas sexual assault is generally used nowadays to indicate offenses of lesser seriousness than rape, even as relatively minor as unwanted touching. Such imprecision of language, which is ubiquitous in today’s news media, is not fatal to understanding in this instance, because we know that the reporter is speaking of rape. But in many news articles, it is said that “sexual assault” was committed and you can’ be sure if what is meant is rape or a significantly lesser offense.]

McCree had a different suspect in the rape case, but that suspect was cleared when DNA evidence collected in the case didn’t match the DNA of the suspect. Later Little Rock detectives called, wondering if McCree knew of anyone who might case houses and break into them, McCree said. McCree suggested Vance.

Only recently, Vance’s girlfriend, Sheanika Cooper, 25, came to face charges related to the pawning of a stolen television set and computer, the detective said.

McCree and Hastings said Little Rock detectives met with the Marianna rape victim Monday before meeting with Vance the next day.

“Understand, we have interviewed many witnesses,” Hastings said. “Anybody who would give us a lead, because you never know which lead would lead us to the suspect. This lead led us to the suspect.” The public defender who represented Vance at Friday’s hearing told Munson, in asking “for a reasonable bond,” that Vance has never faced a felony charge for failing to appear at a court proceeding, that he worked for a Marianna construction company and that he was helping raise three children.

Munson cited several factors in denying bail, including information contained in the arrest affidavit, his own knowledge of the case, the likelihood of conviction and the fact that Vance is a suspect in at least one other case in another jurisdiction. The judge also wondered about Vance’s safety if he is released.

“At this juncture, I do not think a bond would be appropriate, not only for the community’s sake but for [Vance’s] sake because there’s a strong possibility someone would harm him if we [sic] was outside the jail,” Munson said from the bench.

Vance didn’t enter a plea, and Munson forwarded his case to Pulaski County Circuit Court, where Vance will undergo a more formal arraignment and have a trial date set.

The public defender told Munson at one point that Vance worked for Murdock Construction, but the audio in the recording of the hearing wasn’t clear. There is a Murdock Enterprises, which is a contracting company, in Marianna. Its owner, Reginald Murdock, said that while he was familiar with Vance, Vance was never employed by his company. Murdock said Vance could have worked at some point for the company years ago as part of a summer youth jobs program that his firm runs. McCree said heknew of no job that Vance has held recently.

Vance’s arrest is the main topic of conversation in Marianna, the Lee County seat, with a population of about 5,000 and just under 100 miles east of Little Rock.

“Everybody is talking about it,” Murdock said while assisting with a basketball team practice Friday afternoon.

After receiving the forensic evidence from the Crime Laboratory at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Little Rock detectives prepared an arrest warrant.

At 10 p.m., Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas held a news conference naming Vance as a suspect. Acting on a tip, Little Rock police arrested him within two hours later [sic] without incident at a house in central Little Rock. He had left Marianna on Wednesday afternoon reportedly before either the Marianna or the Little Rock police departments had enough evidence to arrest him.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 30, 2008 10:46 PM | Send

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