A multi-agency manhunt spanned just over 24 hours in the Spring River area June 19 as authorities sought 33-year-old Joshua Hoover following a hostage situation.

According to Hardy Police Chief Scott Rose, on June 19, Hoover approached a female victim at River Bend Park near Hardy at gunpoint and after sexually assaulting the victim, forced her into her own vehicle, with the two leaving the park together.

The vehicle, a 2019 Toyota 4-runner was soon-after seen at the Highland Food Mart (formerly the Red Mule) where the victim was able to escape from Hoover and lock herself in the restroom.

“The suspect then was seen on camera entering the store attempting to regain control of the victim but was unsuccessful and left in her vehicle. The suspect then fled from Hardy officers after being spotted near the four-lane bridge crossing Spring River,” Rose said. “The pursuit led into Highway 63 traveling north of Hardy when officers were unable to keep a visual on the vehicle due to heavy traffic and extreme treacherous hills and curves.”

The pursuit was ended in the interest of public safety but the vehicle was located in a ditch at the intersection of Wolf Hollow Circle and Highway 63 in Fulton County.

Both Hoover and the firearm he had used to kidnap the victim were absent from the accident scene and despite evidence the vehicle had rolled multiple times, no evidence of serious physical injury was present.

It was known to law enforcement that Hoover’s family had property at River Bend Park and that he may have traveled there to evade arrest in Craighead County for warrants related to violent crimes and a similar incident, however; his family was unaware Hoover was hiding at the park.

Authorities in Sharp and Fulton Counties remained on high alert and a multi-agency manhunt insured, but was brought to an end June 20 when Hoover was apprehended shortly after 12 noon after being found at the family’s camper in River Bend Park.

According to Sharp County Detective Cody Bailey, the Sharp County Sheriff’s Department, Hardy Police Department, Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, Baxter County Sheriff’s Department, Arkansas Department of Corrections K9 Unit and the Arkansas Department of Corrections Fugitive Recovery Teamall assisted in the apprehension of Hoover.

Hoover was taken into custody and transported to the Sharp County Sheriff’s Department where he will face initial charges of rape, a class Y felony; Aggravated Residential Burglary, a class Y felony; kidnapping, a class Y felony; aggravated assault, a class D felony and theft of property, a class B felony.

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