Murder Suspect Back In NWA, Booked Into Jail

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Eric Frankenhauser, accused of shooting and killing a woman in Fayetteville, was booked into the Washington County Detention Center on Thursday night after being transported from Ohio.

He is being held in connection with capital murder, and has a court date scheduled for Friday.

The Franklin County Detention Center in Ohio released Frankenhauser into the custody of Washington County law enforcement early Thursday after his extradition hearing, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

Frankenhauser waived extradition, allowing him to be brought back to the state.

Frankenhauser, 40, was arrested in Franklin County, Ohio, on Tuesday in connection with capital murder and first-degree battery in the shooting death of 39-year-old Jessica Stewart of Fayetteville.

On Tuesday Frankenhauser was walking down a road 12 miles west of Columbus when he was stopped by deputies and arrested without incident, said Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor.

Stewart was found shot in the head in front of a residence at 2228 W. Wedington Drive on Sunday morning. She died the next day at Washington Regional Medical Center.

Next door neighbors said Frankenhauser was Stewart’s boyfriend.  

According to an arrest affidavit, witnesses saw Stewart outside, on her knees and with her hand on her head in a defensive position. Frankenhauser pulled her hair and hands away.  The witness overheard Stewart say, “Call the police,” then say, “No, no, no.” Finally they heard a “pop” and she fell to the ground, the affidavit states.

Frankenhauser’s sister, Christine Frankenhauser, contacted 5NEWS Wednesday and provided the following statement: “My family is devastated by the loss of Jessica Stewart. We are deeply sorry this has taken place. We understand the devastation. We feel cannot possibly equal the amount of grief her family and friends are feeling right now. We are hoping he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, whatever that may be. Hopefully, justice will be served for Jessica.”

The suspect’s sister says he is from Philadelphia, Penn., and he had recently moved to Arkansas to be with Stewart. She believes the two met online. Christine said she hadn’t seen her brother since July 4.

Neighbors remember Stewart as a sweet woman.

“It was very sad. I feel so bad for her children,” next door neighbor Cathy Duck said with tears in her eyes.

Heather Barlett, who also lives next door, said she’s still shaken up.

“It’s scary to know that that happened right next door. We could have been killed, somebody else could have been killed besides Jessica,” Barlett said.

Police got a 911 call at 8:52 a.m. Sunday. When they arrived, they found Stewart laying wounded in the front yard, police said.

“The call was actually from a neighbor who heard what she believed to be a gun shot, opened the door, found a female victim in her front yard,” police Cpl. Craig Stout said.

Police sent a SWAT team to the house, but the suspect was gone.

Fire vehicles and EMS blocked Wedington Drive for hours between Porter Road and Sang Avenue.

“If our team makes entry or this guy starts shooting, we want to make sure everyone is safe, bullets can travel great distances so that’s why we took the advantage of blocking it off from that distance,” Stout said from the scene Sunday morning.

Neighbors were evacuated and others like Noel Corwin, 41, were told to stay inside.

“Police told us to stay in the other side of the house,” Corwin said.

“(It’s) surreal, right across the street from your house. This is the stuff you see on TV,” Corwin said.