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Monday, May 2, 2016

Jones family haunted by questions

Thursday, August 11, 2005

(Photo)
Missing woman's fate still unknown after two years

mystery: Becky Jones reads a journal entry Aug. 5 from her home on Peace Valley Road. The entry depicts a dream Jones had about her missing niece, 21-year-old Bridgett Sellers. No one in Jones' family has had contact with Sellers since she vanished May 9, 2003, while walking walking near Jones' home. Photo/Jared

A blood-stained wolf and a tarp covering a motionless body.

As Becky Jones tried to grasp the scene that was unfolding in her front yard, the tarp began to move.

From underneath the tarp, Jones' blood-covered niece rose and ran to her.

"I knew you'd find me, Aunt Beck," the niece said emphatically.

At that moment Jones woke and realized it was just a bad dream.

Unfortunately for Jones just a few months after that sleepless night a real life nightmare involving her niece would start to unfold.

Jones' niece, 21-year-old Bridgett Sellers, vanished in May of 2003 while walking on Peace Valley Road between Horseshoe Bend and Ash Flat.

Detective David Huffmaster with the Sharp County Sheriff's Department said authorities are baffled as to what happened to Sellers.

"We are still treating this as a missing person case," Huffmaster said.

Sellers, a Marmaduke native and mother of three, was visiting Jones May 9 when she decided to go for a walk.

"Bridgett was going through a bad divorce and I had temporary custody of her daughter, Emily, and son, Clayton," Jones said. "The day she disappeared a therapist was at my house doing an evaluation of her kids and it upset her and she left."

Sellers was distraught over a videotape the therapist watched in which she, Sellers, verbally abused her aunt in front of Emily, Jones said.

She said Sellers, who didn't have a vehicle, rushed out of the house screaming, "I can't believe you did that to me, Aunt Beck."

Sellers walked to her cousin's house on Peace Valley Road and then she decided to walk into Ash Flat, Jones said.

No one has seen or been contacted by Sellers since she left the cousin's house, Jones said.

Huffmaster said investigators searched area hospital and police records but were unable to find any trace of Sellers after her family reported her missing.

Lead investigator John Qualls, a detective with the Sharp County Sheriff's Department, said two men, Jerry Stevens and Richard Thorton, have been interviewed in connection with the case.

On March 24 investigators from the Sharp County Sheriff's Department and the Izard County Sheriff's Department searched Stevens' property on Peace Valley Road.

Huffmaster said hair and other evidence was collected from the property. He said divers from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission also searched a pond on Stevens' property.

Izard County Sheriff Tate Lawrence said the hair was tested at the Crime Lab in Little Rock.

"The test results were inconclusive, but it probably wasn't human hair," Lawrence said.

Huffmaster said there was other, circumstantial evidence in the possession of investigators. He would not divulge what other evidence his department had collected.

The Izard County Sheriff's Department's involvement in the case is limited to the search of Stevens' property, Lawrence said.

Investigators believe Sellers disappeared in Sharp County, he said.

Qualls said Thorton, who was Sellers' boyfriend, has been interviewed several times.

He said Isaac Sellers, Sellers' ex-husband, is not considered a suspect in her disappearance. Qualls would not elaborate as to why Isaac Sellers isn't considered a suspect.

Jones said she doesn't think Stevens, who is related to Bridgett Sellers, was involved with her disappearance.

"In my mind I hope she just ran off and someday she'll show back up," Jones said "But I know in my heart something happened to her."

Jones said Sellers suffered from post-partum depression and was taking pain medications. She said an arrest warrant had been issued against Sellers for misdemeanor theft.

"She had gotten into a little bit of trouble, but she was a good person who had problems," Jones said.

The relationship between Jones and Sellers had been strained in the weeks leading up to her disappearance, Jones said. She said the two fought constantly over guardianship of Sellers' children.

"Bridgett and her husband had a bad relationship and the kids suffered," Jones said.

It was over a month before the family reported Sellers missing to the local authorities, Jones said. The family didn't immediately contact law enforcement because Sellers had a history of running away, she said.

Sellers spent a portion of her childhood living with her, Jones said. Her niece attended Highland High School, but dropped out.

Jones said she loved Sellers like she was her own daughter.

"This thing has been a living hell for me," Jones said. "I tell everyone I meet that my niece is missing."

Besides her missing niece, life has been difficult in other ways for Jones.

In 2000 Jones was building a home when it burned to the ground and she didn't have homeowner's insurance.

"I lost everything and it put me in a big hole," Jones said.

Over the summer Jones' dog breeding business has been floundering.

She said her pit bulls, Rottweilers, timberwolves, boxers and other dogs will not breed when temperatures rise into the high 90s.

"I haven't sold a dog in months," Jones said.

Every day she is haunted by the vivid dream involving her niece, the wolf and the tarp, Jones said. The dream was so powerful that she wrote it down in a journal the day after she had it.

"I knew then that it ment something, I just didn't know what," a tearful Jones said.

She said if Sellers is out there hiding she hopes her niece returns as a responsible adult. Until then she waits, caring for the two of the three children Sellers left behind.

Emily who is 5 still remembers her mother.

"I told her her mommy was away on a trip and someday she'll come back," said a tearful Jones.

For 3-year-old Clayton there are no memories of his missing mother.

As he runs around the house with his golden blond hair bouncing up and down, and a bright smile on his face, Clayton seems to be oblivious to the chaotic circumstances that haunt his young life.

Isaac Sellers has custody of Sellers' middle child, 4-year-old Collin Sellers.

Jones said Emily and Clayton have not seen their brother, Collin, in a long time. She said the relationship between her and Isaac Sellers has been turbulent.

"It's sad because I want to see little Collin too," Jones said as her voice began to crack.

For Jones her life now revolves around the children who may never know their birth mother.

"I could adopt them (Emily and Clayton) if I wanted to," Jones said. "I got the papers in my car. There's a part of me that wants to wait just in case Bridgett shows up someday. I cant lose hope."

Anyone with information about Bridgett Sellers disappearance or current whereabouts can contact the Sharp County Sheriff's Department at 870-994-7355. Callers may remain anonymous.



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