Double homicide still unsolved after 20 years
It was 20 years ago today that a local young couple were found shot to death “execution style” inside one victim’s car, and Garland County Sheriff’s Department investigators still hope to find their killers or at least provide some answers for the victims’ families.
On Aug. 31, 1997, shortly after 4 a.m., the bodies of Teela Hudson, 17, and her boyfriend, Frank Steven Delaney, 20, were found in Delaney’s two-door blue 1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass in the middle of the road near a driveway on Hayti Lane, located just off Bald Mountain Road in eastern Garland County.
“I am very interested in solving this case so that we can bring those responsible to justice,
and give the families of the two victims a sense of closure that is long overdue,” Sheriff Mike McCormick said recently.
The couple were reportedly last seen alive at Applebee’s, 4426 Central Ave., where Hudson was employed and where Delaney had picked her up around 1 a.m. after her shift ended. Both victims were shot multiple times and, based on evidence at the scene, it appeared there were at least two different shooters using two different guns.
In mid-October 1997, a handgun found in Hot Springs Creek, about 6 miles from the murder site, was later confirmed through ballistics testing at the state crime lab to be one of the murder weapons used.
“I live with it every day,” now retired sheriff’s Lt. Ron Martineau, who was the lead investigator on the case, said Wednesday. “I would love to see the case solved and for the family to finally have some closure.”
He said at one point he thought they had enough to make a possible arrest, but not enough for a conviction. “I talked to the prosecutor at the time (Steve Oliver) and he wanted more. I talked with every prosecutor since then and got the same answer.”
Martineau said there was still a reward in the case and “if anyone has any information I would love for them to come forward.”
Investigators previously said possible witnesses may have been young when the murders occurred and afraid to come forward, but they might feel different now as adults and might be willing to provide information.
Hudson was a senior at Hot Springs High School who was nearing graduation and planned to study computer science at college. Delaney had run into some troubles at school, but had recently completed the Job Corps program and been accepted to study at a Little Rock college, where he planned to try out for the basketball team, family members said in 2013.
“We just want justice for Teela,” her sister, Tanisha Hudson, told The Sentinel-Record. “She was a really good person and didn’t deserve this.”
Even after so long, she said, “I still hope maybe someone will come forward,” but the problem in the past has been “nobody is talking.”
Hudson said they had their suspicions about possible suspects who may have been involved and every time she heard about one of them “getting in trouble” she would call to see if they were questioned anew about the murders.
Anyone with information should contact the sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Division at 501-622-3660.
COLD CASE: Garland County sheriff’s investigators, Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas Medical Examiner’s collect evidence from the scene of a brutal double homicide on Aug. 31, 1997, on Hayti Lane, located just off Bald Mountain Road. The case remains unsolved 20 years later, but investigators are still hoping to bring the killers to justice.