A suspect was arrested Tuesday in connection with the shooting of a woman in Bella Vista from two months ago.
Orville Mitchell Goodwin, known at Mitch, was arrested Tuesday morning (July 16) in connection with the May shooting of Annette Rapalee, officials said. The 61-year-old Pineville, Mo., resident was booked into the Benton County Jail on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.
Goodwin faces charges of attempted capital murder and aggravated robbery. He has a bond hearing in the Benton County Jail scheduled for Thursday.
Goodwin is identified as an acquaintance to the victim, according to the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office. A probable cause affidavit through the Benton County Prosecutor’s Office states that Rapalee’s husband died last year, and Goodwin had been spending time with her since.
Rapalee, 54, of Jane, Mo., was shot in the face and left for dead in a Bella Vista Creek bed on May 11, according to police. A man riding his horse saw the woman bloody and on her hands and knees. He tried to help her and called police.
Rapalee was taken to a Springfield, Mo., hospital where she was treated for her injuries, officials said. She told police she’d been attacked in her home, but police found no evidence of an assault, investigators said.
Her neighbor Randall Boydston said Rapalee mostly kept to herself and she loved her cats. Boydston said he can’t believe something like that happened to her.
“We were shocked and we were devastated for her,” Boydston said. “I can’t imagine that she went through something like that and we wish her the very best.”
About a week after the incident authorities served a search warrant at the home of a man only identified by investigators at the time as Rapalee’s 61-year-old boyfriend. Deputies with the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office discovered blood on Goodwin and inside his vehicle during a search. They also found a weapon, McDonald County Sheriff’s Deputy David Roark said.
“We found several different articles that had blood splatters on them inside the truck, like an envelope and newspapers,” Roark said. “There were blood splatters on the head rest. And on his clothing and on his boots we also found samples of blood.”
The DNA and blood samples were sent to crime labs in both Missouri and Arkansas for investigation, after which it was determined the blood in Goodwin’s truck was consistent with Rapalee’s DNA “within all scientific certainty,” according to the probable cause affidavit.
Authorities have been waiting to make an arrest over the last two months while waiting for lab results to come back, Bella Vista Police Chief Ken Farmer said at the time.
“It took us a lengthy period of time to develop the information before we arrested him, we wanted to be confident that we had charges that were going to stick,” Farmer said.
Rapalee was initially hesitant to cooperate with investigators after being hospitalized. She insinuated to police that her neighbors could be responsible for the shooting, according to the probable cause affidavit. When asked about Goodwin, Rapalee looked down and became quiet, the affidavit states.
Authorities are investigating whether the Rapalee shooting case is connected to the disappearance and death of Dana Stidham, an 18-year-old Benton County woman found killed in 1989 in the same geographical area.
The affidavit states Goodwin’s truck can be seen on May 10 surveillance video from Simmons First Bank in Bella Vista. Goodwin’s truck can be seen at the Arvest Town Center Bank across the street. Rapalee seems to get out of the truck’s passenger side, then go inside, according to the affidavit. Police said Rapalee was cashing a check for her deceased husband’s estate.
Police said Goodwin then drove Rapalee near the Bella Vista creek bed, shot her in the face and left her.
The probable cause affidavit states it appears Rapalee crawled several hundred yards west from where she was shot, eventually coming to rest where she was eventually found by horseback riders the next day. Investigators found three shell casings from the scene. One casing was consistent with a bullet recovered from Rapalee’s jaw, the affidavit states.