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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

DTF: 'We don't take threats lightly'

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Couple to be charged with murder conspiracy

A Salem man and his wife are expected to be charged with conspiracy to commit murder after law enforcement officers uncovered an alleged plot to murder 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force Chief Scott Russell and Drug Task Force investigator Brian Sanderson.

Kermit Bill Comstock, 46, and his wife JoCasta Michelle Comstock, 34, were arrested Jan. 12 after a traffic stop on Highway 62 in Salem.

Both Comstocks are being held without bond until formal charges are filed in state court, said Lt. Bill Beach of the Arkansas State Police.

Besides state charges, the Comstocks may face federal charges as well, Beach said.

Investigators received credible information the Comstocks planned to shoot Russell and Sanderson, he said.

"If my information is correct there might be a list of potential targets," Beach said. "(Circuit Court) Judge (Tim) Weaver might have been on that list, but I'm not sure if that has actually been confirmed."

According to two arrest warrants filed in the Fulton County Clerk's Office, the Comstocks were each arrested and expected to be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a firearm by a certain person and possession of a controlled substance.

Inside the Comstocks' Salem home, investigators found an SKS rifle, a loaded 30-round clip and 200 rounds of ammunition.

Beach said the Comstocks have denied any involvement in a murder conspiracy.

Chief Russell said anyone who threatens DTF officers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

"This behavior will not be tolerated," Russell said. "We don't take threats lightly. People involved in illegal drug activity had better get used to us. We're not going anywhere."

Russell said investigators are looking at others who may be involved in the murder conspiracy.

At the time of their arrest, both Comstocks were free on bond after being charged with multiple drug offenses in October.

Russell said credible death threats against DTF agents began after the Comstocks were arrested.

He said the Comstocks were key players in a multi-million dollar drug operation that stretched from West Plains, Mo., to Pocahontas, and from Salem to Melbourne.

The leaders of that operation, Newton "Bubba" Willingham and Rhonda Due, were arrested Sept. 24. At an Oct. 4 court appearance, Judge Weaver, addressing the reported death threats, told Willingham, "If anything happens to these DTF officers, I will hold you personally responsible."

Willingham and Due are awaiting trial for their drug charges. Bond for Willingham and Due was set at $1 million apiece.

The Comstocks' previous bonds have been revoked, Beach said.

The investigation is being handled by Jeff Stone, a special agent with the Criminal Investigations Division of the Arkansas State Police. The Salem Police, Fulton County Sheriff's Department and the Drug Task Force are assisting in the investigation.

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