On Friday, April 9, Sheriff Shawn Stephens met with Joella Huddleston, 79, in reference to her motor home being stolen. Huddleston stated she has been having the motor home worked on at Marshall’s Diesel Service and they were having problems getting parts for the brake repair, so the service brought the motor home back to her house so it could be parked under the shed.
A pair of men stopped by and looked at it, on Wednesday, but Huddleston only knew one of the men. Stephens spoke with the known man, and the motor home will be entered into the Arkansas Crime Information Center database. The 2003 motor home is a white and gold 30-ft. Airstream, VIN 5B4LP57G433360518.
On Saturday April 10, Detective Zachary Bailey received information from the 16th Judicial Drug Task Force that Mervin Sanders, 41, could be at 329 Newport Road in Batesville.
Sanders had an active warrant with the Arkansas Parole Board. Upon arrival, Bailey went to the front door of the residence and began knocking.
A female subject answered the door. Detective Bailey explained the reason for the law enforcement contact and asked consent to search the residence for the wanted subject.
After getting consent, Detective Bailey and Arkansas State Police Corporal Carpenter entered the residence. Bailey announced “Sheriff’s Department” numerous times with no response. He heard noises coming from a closed door. Bailey announced “Sheriff’s Department” again and the closed door opened.
A male subject, later identified as Sanders, exited the room, and complied with demands of getting on the floor. Bailey cleared the rest of the residence and located no other occupants. Sanders was then placed into custody and escorted out of the residence.
Bailey noticed the door to the hot water heater was not closed completely in the bathroom where Sanders had been. Bailey opened the door and located a black backpack. Upon searching the backpack. Bailey located one clear plastic baggie containing a crystalline substance, two clear plastic baggies containing a vegetable like substance, one glass smoking device in an eyeglass pouch, and a large amount of empty clear plastic baggies. Deputy Chris Martin conducted a search of Sander’s person outside the residence and located a large amount of cash inside his pants pocket.
Martin counted the money with his body camera activated which came to a total of $3,493. Sanders’ property from his person was placed in a paper bag and secured in Detective Bailey’s patrol vehicle. Sanders was transported to the Independence County Detention Facility by Martin.
The evidence and money in this case was transported to the 16th Judicial Drug Task Force office for further examination. The crystalline substance produced positive results for methamphetamine. The total weight of the suspected methamphetamine was more than ten grams but less than two-hundred grams. An agent packaged the evidence and completed submission forms for the Arkansas Crime Lab. All evidence and money is being held by the 16th Judicial Drug Task Force. Sanders was charged with possession of meth or cocaine with purpose to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.
At 11:15 p.m. Saturday, deputies were patrolling the area of 5700 Central Avenue, when they observed a blue Kia Optima driving left of center into the oncoming lane of traffic, as well as speeding up.
Deputies conducted a traffic stop just south of Boutwell Lane. When Deputy Spohr asked what was under his leg, the driver, Randall Edward Fair, 57, of Batesville told officers it was scraps for his dog, and produced a piece of aluminum foil. Deputies asked Fair to exit the vehicle, at which time he reached under his leg and pulled out a plastic bag with a green leafy substance.
As he stepped from the vehicle deputies saw a green, yellow, and red smoking device in the seat. Fair became “agitated” and “irate” with the deputies stating “they were going to ruin his life” because he would lose his job. Deputies had to ask Fair repeatedly to calm down and remove his hands from his pockets. Deputies gave him three misdemeanor citations for driving left of center, possession of a Schedule VI substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
About 4 a.m. Sunday, April 11, deputies were patrolling in the area of Sulphur Rock when they got behind a white Ford Taurus driven by Angela Wright, 50, of Newark. The vehicle pulled off the road twice: Once at a closed Dollar General, and then again at the intersection of Highway 69 and West Broadway.
Deputies activated the blue emergency lights and approached the vehicle from the sides. Deputy Chris Stump wrote in his narrative “Upon approaching the vehicle, I observed all the windows of the vehicle rolled down, and also the strong odor of marijuana,” and “Deputy Spohr asked the driver why she pulled into the Dollar General, and then pulled over again after a marked patrol vehicle got behind her to which she stated, she did not like vehicles being behind her while she was driving early in the morning.”
Deputy Spohr then asked Wright if there was any marijuana present in the vehicle to which she stated there was and it was in her lunch box in the back seat of the car. She also stated that she had a “chillem,” later identified as a glass smoking device, located in the compartment under the stereo of her vehicle.
Spohr asked Wright to step out of the vehicle. Deputies searched the vehicle with nothing else illegal being found and confiscated the following from the vehicle: one plastic sandwich bag with a green leafy substance, a glass smoking device, a yocan vaporizer (dab pen). Both the glass pipe and vaporizer pen had burned residue in them.
Wright was issued misdemeanor citations for possession of a Schedule VI substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Wright was advised that her court date is set for Wednesday June 16.