Woman and Baby Die, Husband Held on Murder Charges
James Saylor Herring, 34, is being held on a first degree murder charge in the death of his pregnant wife Celestia Marie Duffin. A second murder charge may be added after the woman’s baby died, police say.
Doctors at a Fort Smith hospital successfully delivered Duffin’s baby, Keagan Wayne Herring, but Sgt. Daniel Grubbs says the baby boy died from unknown complications before he could be flown to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.
Duffin, who was about 27 weeks pregnant, died from complications due to a stab wound directly above her heart. Their bodies will be sent to the state crime lab for autopsies.
Sgt. Grubbs says Duffin, 32, stumbled into the police department around 12:20 p.m. Tuesday after crashing her vehicle into a telephone pole near the Courts Building on B St. in Fort Smith. Police say Herring stayed at the accident scene and appeared to be in shock.
“The gentleman got out of the car,” said eyewitness Michael White. “He couldn’t even open the door. He had to crawl out the passenger window and he just sat down in front of the car and just sat there until the officers arrived.”
Police believe Herring stabbed Duffin while she was driving.
Herring told investigators he was “unhappy with where their marriage was at,” Sgt. Grubbs said. The couple had only been married for about a week.
Herring is being held at the Sebastian County Detention Center without bond on a first degree murder charge and an attempted first degree murder charge. But Sgt. Grubbs says the prosecuting attorney’s office is expected to upgrade the second charge now that the infant has died.
Police confirm Duffin also has a six-year-old son, but he was not there at the time of the accident.
According to a police report, officers arrested Herring in January on a battery charge after he allegedly hit his wife.