LITTLE ROCK Ark. (Reuters) - The body of a missing Arkansas real estate agent was found on Tuesday in a shallow grave at an industrial site several miles from the house she was trying to sell at the time of her disappearance last week, police said.
Arron Lewis, a 33-year-old Arkansas prison parolee arrested on Monday on suspicion of abducting 49-year-old Beverly Carter, was charged with capital murder, according to police. He pleaded not guilty to all charges at a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.
“She was a target of opportunity for him. At this time, we believe he acted alone,” Captain Simon Haynes, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s chief of detectives, said at a news conference. He said detectives believed Lewis arranged for the appointment with the victim.
Prosecutors have not yet determined if they will seek the death penalty. No cause of death has been released.
“Events like this stain the soul of our community. They leave scars,” Larry Jegley, the prosecuting attorney, said at the news conference.
Lewis remains in custody. When asked by reporters ahead of the hearing if he killed Carter, Lewis replied “No.”
Before going missing on Thursday afternoon, Carter told associates she was meeting a possible buyer at a property in Scott, a sparsely populated community about 16 miles east of Little Rock. Over the weekend, more than 200 volunteers, many real estate agents, helped police comb the area near the house, where her car was found.
Lewis, whose first name is spelled “Aaron” and “Arron” on different government records, was taken into custody after an intensive manhunt.
He was arrested on Monday on suspicion of being responsible for Carter’s disappearance. He admitted to kidnapping the agent, but refused to disclose her whereabouts, the sheriff’s department said.
Detectives later obtained information that led them to an industrial site about 20 miles from the house she was set to show, it said. Lewis had worked at a cement factory in the area.
Arkansas officials have said Lewis was on parole for theft convictions in Arkansas.
Reporting by Eric M. Johnson and Steve Barnes; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Susan Heavey