Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TOP STORY >> Suspect: Long life of crime

Leader staff writer

The parolee accused of kidnapping and killing Crye-Leike realtor Beverly Carter of Scott is a self-proclaimed seven-time felon with several theft convictions, according to his Facebook profile.

Investigators believe Arron Lewis, 33, of 165 Randall Road in Gravel Ridge acted alone and did not know his victim, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Capt. Simon Haynes said during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Lewis, who was paroled last year, confessed to kidnapping Carter, but pleaded not guilty in district court Tuesday to that as well as capital murder, being a felon in possession of firearms and robbery.

Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley said it was too early to say whether he would seek the death penalty in the case.

As of 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, he was being held without bond at the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility.

Other law enforcement agencies have contacted the sheriff’s office about similar cases involving realtors, Haynes said.

Although investigators were not aware of any pending cases in which Lewis is a suspect, Haynes said he had “put himself on the radar.”

An “FBI special agent in charge” was thanked during the conference, but he didn’t speak.

Carter’s husband reported the mother of two grown children missing on Thursday evening after she went to show a home at 14202 Old River Drive in Scott. Haynes confirmed that Lewis had scheduled the showing with the top-selling realtor.

He was arrested on Monday and charged with kidnapping, although Haynes wasn’t clear about the evidence that led investigators to Lewis. Officials say that after 12 hours of interviewing, he confessed to the kidnapping but would not reveal Carter’s whereabouts.

Haynes said investigators did “some tracking out there; there was some information on the victim’s phone and some other data that we went through.”

He said the sheriff’s office could likely provide more details in a few weeks. One of many clues was that Lewis allegedly stole a dump truck that was parked near where he was arrested.

Carter, 49, was found Tuesday morning in a shallow grave at Argos cement company, 12117 Hwy. 5 — a Cabot mailing address located in Pulaski County. According to his Facebook page, Lewis worked for the company in July.

Haynes said the motive for Carter’s murder is still being investigated, and he called the realtor a “target of opportunity for (Lewis).”

Lewis has told the media he kidnapped Carter because she was a woman who worked alone and was a “rich” broker.

Haynes didn’t comment on whether Lewis stole anything from the realtor, although the victim’s purse was left inside her car. It was left parked at the home she had planned to show.

Haynes also declined to say how Carter was killed and whether Lewis would be charged with sexual assault later.

Lewis told media Tuesday morning as he was leaving district court that he hadn’t killed the realtor and said he had text messages indicating a Little Rock Air Force Base airman named “Trevor” was involved. He also told media that he had wanted to plead guilty but a lawyer advised him to do otherwise.

Lewis will have to submit a new plea in circuit court as the capital murder charge he faces is a felony.

Haynes said “Trevor” was interviewed and investigators don’t believe he was involved. Investigators were not seeking any other suspects as of Tuesday afternoon.

Lewis was a manager at Diamond Supply Company in Los Angeles in 2007 but moved to Sherwood this year. (Gravel Ridge is a township that Sherwood annexed several years ago.)

He posted the following on Facebook on Oct. 31: “My charges are; first degree robbery ’98, interstate commerce of a stolen vehicle ’03, aggravated assault on officer ’07, deactivating an anti theft device ’08, 3 counts of theft (related to a scam I ran on a corporation) ’11. So if anyone would like to judge me for my past, remember that i don’t do anything any more.”

According to Lt. Carl Minden of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Lewis was convicted of crimes in northwest Arkansas, Kansas City, Kan., and Utah.

The post continues, “I have a wonderful woman who loves me and I love her, I have a house (paid for), my jeep and motorcycle (paid for), i’m on parole and do what I’m suppose to, i don’t do drugs and i’m happy…”

Lewis is also a father. He has a son who might be 2 years old, according to a couple of Facebook posts.

He’s had at least one run-in with a realtor who reached out to another media outlet, but seemed to be a satisfied customer. Lewis claimed in an Aug. 21, 2013, post referencing a house in Little Rock he planned to buy that he was “getting it for a steal.”

Lewis’ life, at least as it appears via his Facebook wall, suggests a roller coaster of emotions.

On Sept. 27, 2013, he wrote, “Sick of everything and everyone. People are very ugly and spiteful. I wish I could rewind time and go back to a different place but it really wouldn’t do any good cause now I know everyone’s true colors.

“Why do you fall in love with a woman that will eventually keep your child from you? Why make friends when they talk behind your back? Why live only to die and go through grief, pain, and sorrow? Every time I try it’s just a let-down.

“Money doesn’t mean s*** but to those around me. Women want you for money or drugs. They have some high expectations of an ideal guy and a timeline that everything should go at.

“Real relationships are a thing of the past cause there are no commitments or morals. Everything can be left or disposed of. I don’t want any comments cause I really don’t care what anyone thinks. Everything is a facade that covers the ugliness of humanity.”

On Oct. 17, 2014, Lewis wrote that he was the victim of a home invasion orchestrated by the estranged husband of his girlfriend and another man. A police report was filed.

On March 2, he wrote, “The things I do for love…I will do anything to make this woman happy. She is the love of my life and I can’t imagine life without her…”

Then, less than a week later, posted, “Officially single again. Time to get back into dating. Sucks but s*** happens and that’s life.”

On July 19, he posted that he was happy to be spending the day at Magic Springs with his wife — the same woman tagged in his March 2 post.

That woman’s Facebook wall is private. Her relationship status is “single” although Lewis posted that he was with her, his wife, on July 20.

Lewis was a person of interest in Carter’s disappearance when police responded to a one-vehicle accident Sunday on Jacksonville-Cato Road near Ison Lane in Gravel Ridge. A witness said Lewis was speeding and his car fishtailed into the ditch as it was approaching a curve. Lewis said another vehicle ran him off the road.

He was taken to Baptist Hospital for shoulder and neck injuries but left while “not under guard of law enforcement,” Minden said in a news release.

An arrest warrant for the kidnapping was obtained later that day.

According to Forbidden Hillcrest, a Facebook page that describes itself as “Little Rock Underworld News,” a realtor and witnesses recognized Lewis in front of Razor Vapes on Rainwood Road in west Little Rock.

The page states that a witness chased Lewis to Pleasant Pointe Apartments on Green Mountain Drive, where he was taken into custody by authorities.

Lewis allegedly threatened that witness with a knife before officers arrived, according to Forbidden Hillcrest.

During the press conference on Tuesday, Sheriff Doc Holiday extended the office’s condolences to Carter’s family and co-workers. Many attended the press conference wearing red shirts to honor her memory.

David Goldstein of Crye-Leike Real Estate, who had worked with the victim for about 11 years, said Carter was a sweet lady. “If you had a sweet scale, it was Beverly (imitating a scale with his hand parallel to his head), and then there was sugar (gesturing with another hand placed further down) and then there was other sweeteners (lowering that hand farther). That’s how sweet she was.”

Goldstein continued, with a smile temporarily defeating the tears welling up in his eyes, “She was pretty feisty, too. In her professional life, if you were being protected by her as a realtor, if you were her client, that sweet had some teeth.”

Holiday thanked the agencies that helped with the investigation, those who “tirelessly” searched for the victim and the witnesses who helped officers locate Lewis.

Officials said the realtor’s family was “hopeful” during the search and has a “religious strength” that many don’t have to help them through the grieving process.

Haynes said investigators acted quickly and made every minute count because they believed Carter’s life was in “eminent danger.”

The captain noted that deputies worked at least 600 hours searching for Carter and had probably logged more than 1,200 on the case so far.

Holiday said, “This case did not end as we had hoped, but now we must move forward.”

Jegley said, “This never gets easier…I want to remind everyone that this is the beginning of a long process, and it’s going to be frustrating at times because the wheels of justice do not move quickly.”

He added, “Events like this stain the soul of our community. They leave scars, and we know that. And we also know that many of ya’ll are wanting answers that simply can’t be given at this time.”