By NANCY BRITT
The Sentinel-Record 7-29-1977
A charge of first degree murder against Hot Springs police Lt. Thurman Abernathy was filed direct in Hot Spring County Circuit Court Thursday, bypassing Municipal Court and grand jury proceedings.
Abernathy was charged July 8 with the same charge in connection with the death of Garland County Sheriff’s Deputy Linda Edwards, who turned up missing last August. Mrs. Edwards’ remains were found by wolf hunters in February, scattered over Jack Mountain in Hot Spring County.
Municipal Court proceedings in Malvern had been stalled for want of a court date set, so the matter had never gotten as far as the grand jury there. The direct filing Thursday, in connection with which Abernathy’s bond was raised from $25,000 to $50,000, eliminates that procedure.
Prosecutor John Cole said, “We issued the Municipal Court warrant about three weeks ago. As occasionally happens, people come forward once they think the wheels are turning. Based on additional evidence, we decided to file direct today.”
Abernathy was formally arrested again at 4:45 p.m. in the Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Office by state police investigator Lt. Ken McFerren, who also made the arrest earlier this month.
McFerran said he contacted Abernathy in Hot Springs by telephone, after which further telephone contact with Abernathy’s bondsman (Bill Morris of H & H Bail Bond Co.) resulted in the decision to meet in Malvern.
Abernathy immediately made the bond Thursday, the same as he had done with the first bond three weeks ago. No arraignment date has yet been set, but Hot Spring County circuit clerk Ralph Barris said Thursday it would be “soon, I’m sure.”
Abernathy has been on suspension from the Hot Springs Police Department since the initial arrest.
Deputy Edwards turned up missing Aug. 22, 1976, a Sunday when she was supposed to have returned to a babysitter’s home to pick up her two children. Her locked car was found on Arkansas 290.
One item brought out during the period she was missing was that she was about four months pregnant when she disappeared.