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Friday, May 6, 2016

Death ruled homicide

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Police awaiting DNA results to determine identity of dismembered body

The cause of death has been ruled a homicide in the case of the body found in a septic tank on the late Jerry Stevens' property on Alderman Road near Ash Flat.

The body had been dismembered and dropped through the lid of the septic tank, Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver said. According to the University of Arkansas Little Rock Department of Anthropology, where the bones had been sent, the body had been sawed apart, which is what led them to rule the death a homicide, Weaver said.

The cause of death remains unknown.

"We're just waiting to hear something back on the DNA," Weaver said. The results would make a final determination whether the body is that of Bridgett Sellers, the young woman who disappeared on Peace Valley Road near the Stevens property May 9, 2003.

Stevens, who died Jan. 10 in Jonesboro at his sister's home, was the only "person of interest" in the investigation, according to authorities. He was alone on the property at the time of Sellers' disappearance, Weaver said.

Weaver said Stevens' family was present at the time of his death. "We haven't been told of any statement he made claiming responsibility," he said.

Stevens, 47, was a cancer patient who was under hospice care, Weaver said. He said there are no other persons of interest and he doesn't see the investigation going in a different direction than it was before.

The sheriffs' offices of Izard and Sharp counties have been working together on the case since the bones were discovered on Stevens' property Nov. 25, 2005, in Izard County, near the Sharp County line.

Stevens had been convicted of sexual misconduct involving Sellers in 1995 in Izard County Circuit Court. He pleaded guilty to charges of sexual solicitation of a child and was sentenced to one year in jail, suspended.

Stevens also killed his father Sept. 18, 1975, said David Huffmaster, criminal investigator at the Sharp County Sheriff's Office. Stevens, then 16, was not charged in the incident, which Huffmaster said was likely a justifiable homicide.

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