Friday, October 28, 2011

TOP STORY > >Son is certain murder victim was harassed

Leader staff writer

The man accused in the August killing of a Sherwood woman pestered her to date him for months, wanted to work in her garden and then asked her for money two days before she went missing from her Austin Lakes Home, according to the victim’s son.

Richard Cleary of Texas said his mother, when she was asked for money, probably confronted Carter Wilcoxson, 60, who pleaded not guilty this month to the capital murder of 74-year-old Katherine Cleary.

He said Sherwood Police have been intouch with his sister, but had not called him after being asked to do so. Cleary said he had learned more about his mother’s death from the media than the police.

According to a release, “The Sherwood Police Department has remained in contact with the family of Ms. Cleary during the course of the investigation and will continue to do so. The family’s cooperation and understanding during such a difficult time for them has aided us in our ability to conduct this homicide investigation.”

Wilcoxson first met the victim when he was doing yard work for her neighbor about four months before she was killed.

Cleary said Wilcoxson asked his mother for work, but she loved gardening and did all of that by herself. Then he started coming around to ask Cleary out, her son said.

She told her son that Wilcox-son was “harmless, recently divorced and his ex-wife took everything.” Cleary said his mother refused to date an unemployed man who was almost 15 years younger than her.

Cleary said Wilcoxson was released from prison the same time he claimed he had been divorced. He was a “couch-hopper,” who did not have a residence and slept on friends’ couches.

Sherwood District Court Judge Butch Hale said the warrant to arrest Wilcoxson for capital murder said Cleary’s DNA was found on his shoe when he was arrested Aug. 23, one day after she was reported missing. He was first charged with drug possession and parole violation.

Wilcoxson was held without bond in the Pulaski County Detention Facility. He has been transferred to the state Department of Correction.

A trial date has not been set. The case will be handled by the Pulaski County Circuit Court.

His decades-long rap sheet includes convictions for drugs, theft and fraud, according to the court and the state Department of Community Correction. Wilcoxson was released on supervised parole in June 2009. That parole was revoked Oct. 11.

Cleary was reported missing from her Austin Lakes home in Sherwood on Aug. 21, after police responded to an alarm at her home and found her car gone. Neighbors say the house was in disarray.

Two women, Rhonda Glass-burner-Strong, 51, of North Little Rock and Sonia Bell, 39, of Jacksonville were arrested a few days later after detectives followed activity on Cleary’s stolen credit card to the purchase of a flat-screen television at Walmart in Jacksonville. Cameras taped the two women using the card.

Hale confirmed that one of the women told police she had been with Wilcoxson and he had dumped something near Boyd Road just outside Jacksonville city limits. Investigators found Cleary’s body in a ditch there.

Glassburner-Strong and Bell were charged with felony theft by receiving and fraudulent use of a credit card.

No additional charges have been filed against the women, said Capt. Grady Russell of the Sherwood Police Department.

He said Wilcoxson and the two women were acquaintances. They also appeared in court for drug and theft charges around the same time he was in prison.

Lt. Dan Kerr of the Sherwood Police Department said Wednes-day that police had not been able to connect the two women to Cleary’s death.

The continuing investigation into her murder could result in other arrests and charges.

Cleary’s cause of death has not been released because of the ongoing investigation.

According to her obituary, she was a kind-hearted woman who was a member of the Moose Lodge and loved to sew, garden and square dance.