Notified Sunday: Family feels remorse and relief

By MARK PHILLIPS
The Sentinel-Record 2-14-1977

The overwhelming emotions felt Sunday, by the family of missing Sheriff’s Deputy Linda Edwards were ones of remorse and relief.

Ms. Edwards’ remains were discovered Saturday on Jack Mountain by hunters and identified Sunday by representatives of the Arkansas State Medical Examiner’s Office.

According to Roy Ockert Jr. of Batesville, a brother, of the late Ms. Edwards, the family was notified by Sheriff Leon Barlow about noon Sunday. He said the family took the news “hard, but we were all prepared.”

“We all felt we knew what had happened and we were just waiting until she was found. So we weren’t shocked, but it is a time of grief for all of us.” Ockert said.

Continuing, he said it is hard to express his own feelings adding that he feels a great deal of relief since the family had felt Ms. Edwards was dead for several months and had come to the point they could do nothing but pray.

“I guess we felt we knew she was dead, but somehow we needed to know for sure,” Ockert said. “We’ve had some time to prepare ourselves, but it’s still hard to accept.”

The brother said he and other family members were grateful for the efforts of Garland County Sheriff Leon Bartow and Sgt. Mike Fletcher of the Arkansas State Police.

“They (Barlow and Fletcher) did all they could possibly do to complete this investigation, and I’m sure they will continue,” Ockert said.

Ockert said the efforts of the sheriff’s office and state police have been “priceless” to the family.

In addition he said a reward fund established in September to assist in the investigation has not yet been converted into a trust fund for Ms. Edwards’ three children. However, the decision to distribute the funds will be made by authorities, Ockert said.

“The fund is more than a $1.000. We are certainly grateful and always will be grateful to those who found her,” he said.

As of Sunday night Ockert said the children did not know about the death of their mother.

“We don’t know what we’ll do about telling them.” he said.

The children are Sonny, age seven; Toby, age six; and Kim, age four, Ockert said.

Other members of Ms. Edwards’ immediate family include her father, Roy Ockert Sr. of Lake Oswego, Ore.; her mother, Gladys Irene Browning of Hot Springs; a half-brother, Kenneth Browning of Hot Springs; and Ockert, who resides in Batesville where he is managing editor of the Batesville Daily Guard.

Ockert said the family remains uncertain about funeral arrangements, noting that none can be made until the investigation of her remains is completed.

He said that when arrangements are made, the family will be requesting donations for a trust fund for the education of the Edwards’ children in lieu of flowers.

As of Sunday night however, Ockert’s thoughts centered more on the immediate sorrow of his family and the relief they have now that the long period of uncertainty is over.

“We appear to have a crime. It’s finally evident, and I hope those officials who’ve said they were waiting for some evidence will consider it, in their power to act now.” Ockert said.

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