A farmer suspected of abducting and killing an Arkansas jogger while she was out on a run had joined a search group dedicated to finding the missing woman before his arrest, according to multiple reports.
Quake Lewellyn appeared in court Monday for a probable cause hearing for capital murder, rape and kidnapping in Sydney Sutherland’s death, according to local station KLRT-TV.
A special agent with the Arkansas State Police said in court that Lewellyn had been driving down County Road 41 on Wednesday when he saw Sutherland, a nurse, walking.
The special agent said Lewellyn allegedly turned his vehicle around, kidnapped the 25-year-old, put her in the back of his pick-up truck and sexually assaulted her on some farm property before killing her and burying her body, local station KAIT reports.
The body was discovered Friday around 2 p.m., two days after she disappeared. The Arkansas State Medical Examiner in Little Rock was able to confirm the identity of the body through DNA, Jackson County Sheriff David Lucas told the station.
Authorities have not provided any details about the cause of death in the case.
Lewellyn was taken into custody soon after the body was found.
At a press conference announcing the discovery of the body, Lucas said that Lewellyn and Sutherland had known each other, but did not provide further details.
Lewellyn had also allegedly remained close to the case and was listed as a member of a Facebook group created to help in the search for the missing woman, according to People.
Formal charges have yet to be filed against Lewellyn.
Prosecuting attorney Henry Boyce told KAIT there are still questions about the case that need to be answered.
“A lot of people do not understand that an arrest can be made, and a person can be put in jail without actually being formally charged,” he said. “Charges are based upon the discretion and the decision of the prosecuting attorney office. It’s solely within my discretion frankly to decide what charges are born forth by the proof that the police and the sheriff’s office has gathered in support of our case.”
Boyce said he knew the families of both the victim and suspect in the case, but planned to remain objective as the case progresses.
“I happen to personally know the family of the victim, as I do the family of the defendant. It’s hard to live your life in a community of this size and not know just about everybody,” he said. “Although it may be impactful on the tragedy, it doesn’t affect my judgment.”
Lewellyn’s family was named the 2016 Jackson County Farm Family of the Year, according to an article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Together, three generations of the family—including Lewellyn’s father and grandfather—farm 5,800 acres across four Arkansas counties, the paper reported at the time.
Lewellyn, who had his own farm as well, said that farming had been a way of life for the family.
“I’ve always worked on the farm,” he told the paper. “I began driving a yellow Ford … hauling seed for Dad.”
Lewellyn graduated from Tuckerman High School in 2010 and got his own start in farming after his dad helped him rent land and gave him equipment.
“We all have our own farms, but we help each other out,” Lewellyn said.
Lewellyn’s arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 1.
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