FSPD: Body Found At Chaffee Crossing Trail Identified; May Be Related To Oklahoma Homicide

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- A man found dead near a Fort Chaffee walking trail has been identified as David Cates, 28, according to Fort Smith Police Cpl. Tony Rice.

Earlier on Saturday (Nov. 25) Fort Smith Police confirmed a jogger found a body near Massard Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Smith on a trail at Chaffee Crossing.

Police said Cates appeared to have suffered from a self-inflicted gun shot wound. The gun and shell casing were found on site.

Rice told 5NEWS this investigation may be related to a homicide case in Arkoma.

 Arkoma police told 5NEWS they're waiting to see if the man matches the homicide suspect that allegedly set a man's home on fire on State Line Road Nov. 17.  Police said James “Eddie" French died in the fire. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is also working the case.

Friends and family tell 5NEWS French was a wonderful person who was always helping others.

“He was my bestest, bestest friend,” said Cyndi McMahan. “I miss him everyday."

Cyndi said Cates had been living in a camper on French’s property and moved out two weeks before the fire.

Both bodies are currently undergoing autopsies. Stay with 5NEWS for the latest developments to this story.