Authorities searching the grounds of a cement company early Tuesday found the body of a real estate agent who disappeared almost a week ago, and upgraded charges against a suspect in the case from kidnapping to capital murder.
The body of Beverly Lyn Carter, 49, was found overnight in a shallow grave at the Argos Concrete Co. in a rural area in Cabot, about 20 miles from where she was scheduled to show a house to a prospective buyer last Thursday.
The suspect, Arron Lewis, was arrested Monday and questioned for 12 hours. He admitted kidnapping Carter “but would not divulge her whereabouts,” Lt. Carl Minden, spokesman for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, said in a statement.
Lewis, who was on parole after being released from prison in August 2013, used to work at the cement company.
During a “perp walk” early Tuesday to the county detention center, Lewis spoke briefly to reporters and denied killing Carter.
“I haven’t seen her for two days,” he said. “Now they are showing me pictures of this.”
Asked why he had targeted Carter, Lewis, who has admitted abducting the real estate agent, said she was “a woman who worked alone, a rich broker.” Asked if he had comment for her family, he said he was “sorry.”
Beverly Carter murder suspect Arron Lewis is being escorted by authorities from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office to a patrol car to be booked on a capital murder charge.
In denying killing Carter, he mentioned a “co-defendant” named “Trevor” who he said works at an Air Force base and had texted him. Authorities say they have no other suspect in the case.
Lewis formally entered preliminary pleas of innocent to charges of capital murder and kidnapping on Tuesday and was ordered held without bail.
Upon leaving the courthouse after his hearing, Lewis told a reporter he had pleaded not guilty “because that’s what my lawyer said to do,” KARK-TV reports.
Asked by KARK’s Shannon Miller if he initially said in the courtroom that he wanted to plead guilty, Lewis said he had, adding, “I just want this all over with.”
Shortly after booking the 33-year-old Lewis into jail Monday morning, investigators “obtained information” that led them to the site in Cabot where Carter’s body was found, Minden said.
“We have reason to believe he’s been on the property and is familiar with it,” he said.
Carter was reported missing by her husband, Carl Carter, on Thursday after she was supposed to meet an unknown person at a home in Scott, just outside Little Rock, to show a house around 5:30 p.m.
When she didn’t return home later that night, Carl Carter went to the house and found her SUV parked outside with her purse in it and the door to the home open.
“Her car was there, and the house was wide open, and I knew that something was wrong,” Carl Carter said.
He also said he received a bizarre set of texts from her phone about 1 a.m. Friday that didn’t sound like her at all.
“All of a sudden I received three texts in a row,” Carter said. “One said, ‘Yes.’ Then she sent another text that said, ‘My phone’s low. The battery’s down, and I’ll call you whenever I get signal.’ And, then, straight back-to-back, I received a text that said ‘Oh, I’m out drinking with some friends.’
Carl told police that his wife did not drink.
An arrest warrant was issued for Lewis on Sunday, although authorities did not say at the time how he was linked to the case.
On the day that he was implicated in Carter’s disappearance, Lewis was also involved in a car accident in which his vehicle apparently collided with a concrete barrier at about 9:55 a.m. Sunday, according to an accident report.
The reporting officer said Lewis, from Jacksonville, Ark., indicated that another vehicle ran him off the roadway, but witnesses said that Lewis was speeding and began to fishtail prior to the crash.
He was taken to Baptist Hospital to be treated for shoulder and neck injuries, and written a citation for careless driving and no seat belt. A photo taken immediately after the accident also showed injuries on his face including a bloodied nose, and what appears to be a large gash on his forehead.
He left the hospital, however, before authorities had linked him to the Carter case