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    Benton missing person case update: Joe Lee Richards Jr.

    10:26 AM, Oct 4, 2011   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Almost a year after a Benton man disappeared, his case was back under the microscope Monday.  

    Five law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, searched a Traskwood home, looking for possible clues to Joe Lee Richards, Junior's whereabouts.

    Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane says a woman who lives in the house they searched Monday is a possible person of interest. We're not identifying her because she is not under arrest and police are not actively searching for her.

    We don't know yet what was found in the home and that's part of the reason we're not naming the person of interest. Investigators say it's going to be a few days before they can release anything. It's just going to take time to process everything they recovered from the house.

    Police tape surrounds this rural Traskwood home Monday, as investigators try to crack a missing person's case, involving Joe Lee Richards, Junior. This weekend marks one year since he disappeared from his Benton home. 

    "We received a few tips initially but they really didn't pan out," said Lt. Kevin Russell with Benton Police. "But in the last few weeks, they've been able to determine some more information which led us to that residence."

    Lt. Kevin Russell would only say that information suggests some sort of crime happened here with Richards over the past year.    

    "Was Mr. Richards maybe taken there; something happened there, foul play? THV's Max Seigle asks.

    "That's always a possibility, we can't rule anything out," Lt. Russell said.

    After seven hours of work Monday, including the help of a small search dog, no firm clues to pass along.

    "They're still sifting through some of the stuff that they found," Lt. Russell said.

    We do know Monday marked the first time the FBI came to Saline County to work this case alongside Benton police, the Saline County Sheriff's Office and the Arkansas State Crime Lab. Arkansas Game and Fish even provided some type of equipment needed for the investigation.

    "Hopefully it will give us some information not just so that we can finalize our case but hopefully we can also let the family know something too," Lt. Russell said.  

    As for Richard's family, his father is Benton Alderman Joe Lee Richards, Senior.     

    He's actually in the hospital right now with pneumonia, but we did speak with him by phone. He is aware of Monday's search and told me that his son had friends in Traskwood, but no one he could think that would do any harm to him.

    Joe Lee Richards, Senior also tells Today's THV that he's received no word from his son over the past year. His father says they're trying to remain hopeful like police and getting lots of support from friends and community members.

    Benton Police still welcome tips on this case, especially if you called early on; they want to hear back from you.

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