Dou­ble homi­cide still un­solved after 20 years

The Sentinel-Record - - FRONT PAGE - STEVEN MROSS

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.

The Sen­tinel-Record/File photo

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.

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