Steven Carpenter, 26, of Glencoe, has been charged with capital murder in the brutal slaying of a young Stone County man.
Stone County resident, Kagen Futrell, 19, was reported missing March 27. He reportedly had not been seen since March 26.
Investigators found Futrell's body in the late hours of March 28 in a shallow grave near Parma Road. According to authorities, Futrell had been beaten and stabbed to death.
Two Stone County men, Mark Blackford, 19, and David Tidwell, 34, along with Carpenter, are in custody in connection with the slaying. The men have given statements verifying their involvement.
According to official statements the three men charged admit to being at or near the scene during the murder, although none of their statements match.
In sworn documents, Special Agent Dennis Simons of the Arkansas State Police said he spoke with Futrell's mother, Paula Collins, who said Futrell was involved with the sale of methamphetamine. Collins said that on March 25, Futrell traveled to Batesville to pick up a quantity of meth. Futrell then returned from Batesville and traveled to Stone County that night and sold some of the meth, Collins said.
According to documents, Futrell returned to a friend's house near Timbo and later left in a vehicle with more than one person in the early hours of March 26.
Futrell told his friend he would return in 20 minutes and left in what the friend described as a white minivan. Futrell's friend did not see him alive again, the report said.
Blackford, in a mirandized statement to law enforcement, said he, Carpenter and Tidwell stole the minivan and later picked Furtell up at his friend's house.
The statement says Blackford said they took Futrell to a wooded area near a tornado damaged area off of Parma Road, telling Futrell they were going to the location to make meth. In Blackford's statement he said he, Carpenter, and Tidwell thought Futrell was an undercover police informant, although his statement is the only one with that information.
According to the statement, once at the scene, Blackford said Tidwell and Carpenter struck Futrell with a shovel and stabbed him multiple times. He said Futrell died there in the woods from his injuries.
Blackford said in the statement that he took Futrell's wallet and searched him for drugs before throwing items used in the killing into a nearby pond. In the statement Blackford also described pouring a chemical on the body in an attempt to destroy evidence.
According to the statement, Blackford said the three men went to Wal-Mart where they purchased supplies to bury the body, then they returned to the scene and buried Futrell. The white minivan was abandoned, according to Blackford's statement.
The statements of Carpenter and Tidwell have a general timeline consistent with Blackford's, but with noticeable differences.
Blackford said in his statement, all three men were present, but he himself did not inflict injuries on Futrell.
Carpenter said in his statement, he stayed at the top of hill cleaning evidence from the van while the other two men killed Futrell. He also said he went to Wal-Mart but did not return to the scene. Carpenter went on to say he knew a few days prior to the slaying that Tidwell and Blackford planned to kill Futrell, and stated they later said they were going to rob Futrell of his money and dope.
Tidwell said in his statement that Carpenter and Blackford took Futrell down the hill while he stayed at the van.
Authorities found Tidwell to have traumatic injuries to his hands and arms consistent with the mode of Futrell's death and burial.
Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger received a call from Stone County authorities asking for help to bring in Carpenter.
"March 30, Todd Hudspeth, the sheriff from Stone County, called me and said they had two people in custody after finding a shallow grave. It was Kagen Futrell. Them boys had went to Wal-Mart and got some plastic to wrap him up in and some kind of acid to pour on the body, and they put him in a shallow grave," Dillinger said.
"So, the sheriff had two of the boys in custody, and he thought the other one lived in our county. They had them (Carpenter, Blackford and Tidwell) all together on the videotape at Wal-Mart. He told me it was Steven Carpenter, and I let him know I knew who he was and right where he lived (Glencoe). I asked, 'how quick do you want him?'" Dillinger said.
Dillinger, along with Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy Terry Walker met shortly after the conversation with Stone County and realized that they had child support papers that needed to be modified, concerning Carpenter.
"We used the papers and also told him that Stone County wanted to talk to him. We couldn't tell him why because we didn't want him to run off. So, Terry Walker went down there and he came in," Dillinger said.
According to Dillinger, it was apparent that something wasn't quite right with Carpenter as soon as he arrived at the sheriff's department. "Man, oh man, was he fidgety. He knew what was going on. He knew," Dillinger said.
Dillinger said that when he called Sheriff Hudspeth back he thought they must have been in the field where they had found the body because Hudspeth yelled at the others, "Hey guys, they got him."
According to Dillinger, Carpenter was allowed to make a phone call but the conversation wasn't so secret.
"Steven wanted to use the phone to call his wife. Well, I let him use the phone. He was telling his wife he needed an alibi. We heard him say it, Kristy (Fulton County Dispatcher Kristy Hardin) even wrote it down. He thought we wasn't listening, but we listen to a lot of stuff that goes on," Dillinger said.
Stone County came and picked Carpenter up from Fulton County custody. According to Hudspeth, they were very appreciative.
"That is what we are here for. We do not need stuff like that in our county," Dillinger said.
With Carpenter and the other two men, Blackford and Tidwell, in custody, Sheriff Hudspeth said he was confident he had the right suspects after going through his investigation.
"On March 27 my office got a call from the family of Kagen Futrell. They reported him missing on of course Thursday but they hadn't seen him since Tuesday night. The state police came in and we started investigating it right away that evening," Hudspeth said.
"We had come into contact with one individual that we knew had been in touch with him in the past, a friend of his. His story just didn't add up and ultimately we were led to the body," he said.
"It was also learned about this time that he had left a residence in Timbo. We had picked up a white Ford minivan. Well, in the investigation we found out that the Mountain View Police Department had just taken a stolen vehicle report on a 1993 white Ford minivan from Pinewood Cabins, the same night he went missing," Hudspeth said.
"They took him out to a wooded area on Highway 263 north, otherwise known as Parma Road. There they beat and stabbed him to death. They tried to dispose of all of the evidence and different things," he said.
Hudspeth said that they have a motive based on their statements and that it is drug related. The three men, during the process of talking, gave Hudspeth enough information that he is confident he has the people responsible for Futrell's murder.
"We feel like we have the right people in custody and there is no one else, unless there are any surprises," he said.
According to Hudspeth it is suspected that Carpenter became acquainted with Tidwell at the Sharp County Jail in 2007. "Carpenter has been up here hanging out, and I think he has been spending a lot of time up here," Hudspeth said.
Carpenter was charged with capital murder, aggravated robbery, two counts of theft of property and habitual criminal. Tidwell faces the same charges with an additional charge of felon in possession of a handgun. Blackford faces capital murder, aggravated robbery and two counts of theft of property.
They await trial in the Stone County Jail.