Two men have been arrested in connection with the murder of 9-year-old Rowan Ford. One is being held in Barry County. The other is being held in Newton County. Both are expected to be charged with the murder of Rowan.
The Joplin Globe reports that the Barry County Sheriff’s Department identified the girl’s stepfather, 24-year-old David Spears, as the suspect who was in custody in Newton County. Spears’ friend, 32-year-old Chris Collins of Wheaton, is the man under arrest in Barry County, according to the newspaper.
Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland says the investigation took on a total change of direction on Friday evening, about ten hours after the girl’s body was found in a sinkhole in McDonald County, about ten miles south of her home in Stella.
Copeland says the big break came during an interview with a Wheaton resident. Information obtained in the interview led investigators to what they believe is the murder scene in Barry County. Authorities now believe Rowan was taken from her home in Newton County, murdered in Barry County and dumped in McDonald County.
Rowan’s mother returned from her job last weekend and couldn’t find Rowan. An extensive search began with as many as 75 law enforcement personnel devoted to finding the child. Two deputies from McDonald County, Jake Boles and Mike Hall, found the girl’s body about Friday morning in a sinkhole near Powell. Boles was familiar with the sinkhole and knew it had not been checked yet. Boles discovered the girl’s body under a ledge in the hole.
Prosecution might well take two tracks. Kidnapping charges are likely to be filed in Newton County with murder charges filed in Barry County.