Radio operator still missing: ASP enters search for deputy

By Larry Ault
The Sentinel-Record  8-26-1976

The Garland County Sheriff’s Department Wednesday called the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Forces into the search for a missing female deputy.

Deputy Linda Edwards, a 29-year-old radio operator who has been with the department for the past six months, turned up missing during the weekend and has remained missing despite wide spread publicity regarding her disappearance.

Sheriff’s Deputy Roy Smith said Wednesday that the Sheriff’s Department had requested the assistance of the Arkansas State Police because the state police forces simply had more resources to call upon during an investigation of this scope.

Deputy Smith asked that anyone who traveled in the vicinity of highway 290 between Highway 171 and Highway 7 South on the night of August 21 call the Sheriff’s Department.

Smith said the department wanted to question anyone who may have driven the highway between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on August 21 in an effort to determine just when Mrs. Edwards’ car was abandoned on the highway.

The only substantial lead which the Sheriff’s Department reported related to the abandonment Edwards’ vehicle which was found on Highway 290 in the Red Oak Community.

Following a futile manhunt in the Red Oak Community by officers of the Garland County sheriff’s department, Smith said an initial investigation by the department indicated the need for additional manpower.

Criminal investigator Mike Fletcher of the Arkansas State Police said in a telephone interview that after receiving the request from the Sheriff’s Department for the assistance of the Arkansas State Police he called the ASP’s special Major Case Squad.

Sgt. Fletcher said that the squad is comprised of trained investigators who are assigned to different areas of the state has the local emergency needs require.

“I am now in the process of reviewing the information related to her disappearance,” said Sgt. Fletcher.

Sgt. Fletcher said that the Major Case Squad would confer with him regarding the available information relating to Mrs. Edwards disappearance.

“We’re starting from scratch,” said Sgt. Fletcher, adding that it appeared the case would be an involved assignment for him.

In addition to the request that the Criminal Investigation Forces for the Arkansas State Police be brought into the investigation, the Sheriff’s Department had also requested that a special lab crew be dispatched to Hot Springs area to inspect Edwards’ vehicle.

Although the car was initially found locked and abandoned on Highway 290 near Hot Springs, it has since been stored at a private garage in the resort community where it was to undergo the lab tests. No report on the outcome of those tests has been made available.

Mrs. Edwards was last seen Saturday. Her disappearance became apparent when she failed to pick up her children, who were left with a baby sitter Saturday.

The Garland County Sheriff’s Department became alarmed when Mrs. Edwards failed to report to work Monday morning. The Sheriff’s Department and the state authorities are now into the fourth day of the investigation into the missing sheriff’s deputy.

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