Murder in Wheeling

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Police have leads, but make no arrests

Just off of Whippoorwill Road near the community of Wheeling a trailer sits in the middle of an overgrown yard almost invisible from the road. For a Manila man visiting a friend in that same trailer Aug. 25 there was something that wasn't visible to him -- his murderer lurking in the shadows.

David Stone, 49, was standing in front of a window at the residence of his friend Leonard King Jr. when he was shot in the chest and killed.

"At the present time investigators are following some leads in the case, but no charges have been filed," Fulton County Sheriff Lloyd Martz said.

Arkansas State Police Lt. Bill Beech said investigators have a possible suspect or suspects but there isn't enough evidence to prove probable cause at this time. Sheriff Martz said he would not comment on a possible motive for the shooting until authorities have a suspect in custody.

At 10:33 p.m. Aug. 25 Sharp County 9-1-1 dispatch received a call reporting that a man had been shot and needed assistance. The Fulton County Ambulance service arrived on the scene and then transported Stone to the Salem Municipal Airport. He was then taken by air ambulance to St. John's Medical Center in Springfield, Mo.

He died at 5:10 a.m. the next day.

Beech said Arkansas State Police special agents have been conducting interviews of witnesses and potential suspects in the case. Authorities said they are not commenting about the relationship between potential suspects, Stone or King.

One person interviewed in connection with the case, David Burch of Salem, was arrested on an unrelated charge after investigators discovered a stolen Drug Task Force firearm in his residence, Martz said.

Burch posted a $10,000 bond Aug. 30. Sheriff Martz said Burch isn't a suspect but he is "a person of interest" in the case.

Beech said evidence collected at the scene and at Stone's autopsy have been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for analysis. He said when the test results come back a tedious process of interviews and examination of the evidence will begin.

As of press time, Beech said investigators have not positively identified the murder weapon.

"We hope to have some insight as to who perpetrated this crime soon," Beech said.

Arkansas State Police Investigator Marc Hollings-worth is the chief investigator in the case. Officers from the Arkansas State Police, 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force, Fulton County Sheriff's Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control are assisting in the investigation.

Beech said sometimes the process is slow, but law enforcement is working hard to solve this crime.

"Every murder investigation is like a puzzle. We have to take it one piece at a time," Beech said.

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