Pond Search For Missing Girl Ends; New Leads Emerge

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The search for a missing teen’s remains in a Benton County pond has ended after almost one week , but investigators are not yet saying whether they found anything, according to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputy Keshia Guyll said the search has opened up new leads for detectives, who are working full-time while investigating several persons of interests.

Deputies began searching for remains and evidence Monday in the disappearance of April Andrews, 15, who went missing from Pea Ridge in November 2006. Investigators drained a pond on the outskirts of Rogers on Monday and Tuesday. They have been digging for evidence ever since, but ended the process Friday afternoon, Guyll said.

Now deputies will clean up the site.

Digging efforts have focused on the area of the pond identified by cadaver dogs as an interest spot. Deputies, with the help of the Benton County Road Department, used heavy equipment, shovels and their hands, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous letter in April concerning the old case, prompting deputies to begin searching through and draining a pond on private property on North Second Street in Rogers, Guyll said.

Guyll said the pond was not drained until June in part because the investigative process involved getting the landowner’s permission and then using cadaver dogs to search the area.

The landowner is not a suspect, Guyll said. She said there are no suspects in the case, but past persons of interest are being re-interviewed.

“Somebody knows something,” said Guyll. “Somebody has to know something. Obviously somebody who wrote this letter knows something. We really just want to urge them to come forward. We really just want to bring this little girl home.”

Longtime Pea Ridge resident Lucy Hale still remembers the day she called 911 in November 2006, around the same time April went missing. Hale said she and her grandchildren thought they heard something out of the ordinary that night.

“We thought we heard screaming from a truck, so I looked outside and it looked like a brownish truck,” Hale said. “And I went back in the house and called police.”

Hale lives down the road from the last place April was seen, at the corner of Weston Street and Slack Street. Police said she walked from her home at King Lane Apartments, just a few blocks away, to the Pea Ridge Church of the Nazarene, to pick up some clothes.

Janice Ramer still lives at the apartment complex and remembers the then-15-year-old April playing sometimes outside with her friends.

“I don’t know what to think about it. I’m sorry about it, and I don’t know how she came to disappear,” Ramer said.

Pea Ridge School District Supt. Rick Neil said he was April’s brother’s principal at the time of April’s disappearance. He remembers the family well.

“All of our teachers have a personal relationship with students, and that teacher relationship carries on for years,” Neil said.

Now Neil and members of the Pea Ridge community want some kind of closure.

“It’d be nice for her family,” Neil said.

“I pray that they do find her and do whatever it takes to find her,” Hale said.