Two Dead, Two Missing In Polk County

POLK COUNTY (KFSM) — A second body within one week has been found in the county, resulting in the second homicide case opened this week, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The body of Steven J. Payne, 66, was found inside his residence Thursday (April 27) afternoon in Hatfield, according to the Sheriff’s Office. However, the Sheriff’s Office didn’t release detailed information until the following morning. It has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime lab for an autopsy.

Payne is the uncle of 43-year-old Bethany Jo Wester. Her body was found two days prior, April 25, in a creek southeast of Cove. Her death is also being investigated as a homicide, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Additionally, Wester’s two children, Reilly Scarbrough and Acelynn Wester, are missing. Arkansas State Police, Mena Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children are actively searching for the children, who are considered critically endangered.

The FBI, Arkansas Game and Fish, Arkansas State Parks authorities, U.S. Forest Service, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Grannis Police Department are also assisting in the search.

The agencies in conjunction are continuing ground searches Friday (April 28), according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer said the agencies have been working around the clock regarding the two homicides and two missing children.They are actively searching for a suspect(s) and for the children.

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