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    Ruth Ann Flemings murder still unsolved 30 years later

    8:28 PM, Oct 13, 2010   |    comments
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    • Ruth Ann Flemings
    • Carl Flemings, victim's brother
    • Bridge where body was found
        

    For three decades, a haunting secret has yet to escape an Arkansas County pond.

    "The why. That is my biggest question, is why," says Carl Flemings.

    It's a lonely place, a washed away wooden bridge on the old St. Charles Highway. It's forgotten by many.

    Flemings explains, "Seems like its been a long time. I wasn't but 18."

    But it's what happened here that'll be remembered forever.

    Retired Arkansas State Police investigator David Rosegrant says, "Whoever did this is a local person that knew Ruthie."

    The town square in DeWitt is a popular hang out for teens and it was no different in 1980.

    On a fall night, Ruth Ann Flemings was out with friends and her brother Carl. But it was getting late and Carl had to work the next day.

    He explains, "See, I blame myself because if I would have stayed in the car she probably would still be here."

    Around 6 a.m. on Sept. 22, 1980, a group of men traveling down Highway 1 in DeWitt noticed something.

    Rosegrant says, "When that vehicle stopped this white female jumps out and starts running back down the road towards them waving her hands and they don't stop."

    Police now believe it was Ruth trying to get help. The witnesses gave an accurate description of her and her car.

    About 45 minutes after that last sighting, Ruth's car was found parked at her boyfriend's home on North May Street, somewhere she parked often. A search of the trunk turned up an excessive amount of water and blood.  Police say her boyfriend was later ruled out as a suspect.

    Rosegrant says, "The search is on at the point. Where is Ruthie?"

    Two days later, there was a gruesome discovery. Ruth's naked beaten body was found submerged in water. The medical examiner's report says she'd been struck at least nine times on the head.

    "I imagine whatever instrument was used, that first blow probably either killed her or put her out," explains Rosegrant.

    The next day, Ruth's clothes and watch were found a mile away at another pond. Then later in the week, her sunglasses and a pack of her cigarettes turned up on a road south of town. Police now had four active crime scenes, including her car.

    "Did you move it? Did you touch it? Now your finger prints are on it," says Rosegrant. "That contaminates the crime scene. It makes it a lot more difficult for the investigators to pinpoint where the crime occurred and also a little more difficult to determine who did the crime."

    Rosegrant says over the years they developed about six different suspects. Some passed a lie detector test and some failed.

    "I think now, probably shortly there after other people probably knew what happened and they are just not coming forward with the information," says Rosegrant.

    Rosegrant even took the case to the FBI so they could develop a criminal and psychological profile.

    He explains, "They gave us some things to look for on the anniversary of the death. We did those and nothing turned up."

    They also staked out the crime scenes and her grave. Nothing turned up.

    Carl Flemings is losing hope. He explains, "That is what daddy always wanted. Before he died, he wanted justice for his little girl, but he never did and I don't figure I will."

    Technology has advanced greatly in 30 years. DNA could now potentially lead to the killer. But Flemings says about 10 years after the murder, the Arkansas County sheriff gave her clothes back to the family.

    He says, "So I figure if they give all the evidence back, how can the case be open?"

    Rosegrant says state police would not have turned the clothing back over to the family, but the sheriff's department had their own policy. And because DNA testing wasn't available back then, Rosegrant says its likely they didn't think twice.

    Today, Ruth Ann Flemings would be 50.

    Carl says, "She could have been married and had kids. I could have been an uncle again."

    His hope is yet another day won't pass before justice is served. 

    Rosegrant explains, "I know it's frustrating. I know it's been nearly 30 years and nothing has happened but the case I think it will be solved. We just have to hang in there and pray that that evidence will come forward at some time and we can solve this case out."

    If you have any information on this murder, you are urged to call the Arkansas County Sheriff's Department at (870) 946-3161 or Arkansas State Police at (501) 618-8000.

    THV's Arkansas cold case series airs every Wednesday on the "THV 10:00 Difference." If you have know of an unsolved murder or missing persons case, e-mail us at news@todaysthv.com.

    This series has been airing since July 2009. To watch other cases Today's THV has profiled, check out our Arkansas Cold Case webpage.
     

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