MONTGOMERY COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE
Monday, July 22, 2019
Explanation of technology being utilized during the search.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is utilizing the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual Drone with FLIR MSX Thermal imaging to search shorelines and lake surfaces.
Benton County Search and Rescue Team is utilizing the Marine Sonic Technology Arc Tow Fish Sonar tow behind system utilizing side-scan system providing real time video of underwater search area. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission continues to operate the system while Benton County Search and Rescue Team take necessary breaks.
Pope County OEM coordinator provided the Video Ray Pro 4 ROV with high def camera, blue view sonar system with multi beam sonar providing live view of underwater search area. This system is being operated by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
At approximately 2:00 p.m. this date, recovery operations were scaled back in the search at Lake Ouachita in the Mountain Harbor area for missing Grant County Deputy Keith Wright. Operations will continue on a daily basis on a smaller scale by available personnel. Operations will be reinstated on a larger scale if additional information on his location becomes available.
Montgomery County Sheriff David E. White and Grant County Sheriff Ray Vance wish to extend their appreciation to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and all assisting agencies, officers and volunteers for their tireless efforts to locate Deputy Wright. Special thanks to Ricky and Debbie Lee with Subway, Bill Barnes and the entire Mountain Harbor Resort staff and Ocean Extreme for the immeasurable support provided throughout the operations.
Any additional developments in the search will be provided as they occur.
The missing man on Lake Ouachita has been identified as Grand County Deputy Keith Wright. Deputy Wright was a Pine Bluff Police Officer and a Pulaski County Deputy before being hired as a grant county deputy. He has been a SWAT officer and filled many roles in his law enforcement career. he also taught diving lessons in his off time.
Today many agencies have come from all over the state to help with the search. These agencies include the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Grant County Sheriff's Office, Pulaski County Sheriff's Office, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Army Corp of engineers, Mt. Ida-Southfork VFD, Joplin VFD, Carrol County SAR, Johnson County SAR, and the Arkansas State Police. Mountain Harbor Resort has helped and devoted several resources to the search. Several boats with SONAR and other equipment have been used in the search. Helicopters and Drones have also been used. Grant County Sheriff Ray Vance and Sheriff David White would like to thank everyone for assisting in the search.
On Friday, July 19, 2019 at approximately 9:49 pm., the Montgomery County Sheriffs Office received a call from an individual who stated that he was boating with a friend. He and the friend dove off of their party barge near a cove just North of Mountain Harbor Resort. When they came up, the boat was drifting North away from the two men. Both men began to swim towards the boat. It was during this time that the caller lost contact with the friend. The caller then swam to a shoreline and started hollering for help. Eventually, a boat came and rescued him and at that time he called the Montgomery County Sheriffs Office to report the incident.
The Montgomery County Sheriffs Office, the Arkansas Game and Fish, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Rangers, the Joplin VFD, and the Mt. Ida-South Fork VFD responded to the call. Several boats went to the area and searched the area, but the other individual was not located. The boat was found at the back of a cove with the engine still running with the gear shift in neutral. It is suspected that the wind blew the boat away from the two men.
Search and Rescue operations are going to continue throughout the day if necessary. Sheriff White would like to thank all the agencies and Mountain Harbor Resort for assisting in the search.
Montgomery County Sheriff David White was contacted on April 30th 2019 by the Garland County Sheriff's Office regarding a body found in the back of a vehicle.
The driver of the vehicle and the victim are both residents of Montgomery County. Garland County Sheriff's Office requested Sheriff White to check the residence of the driver to see if it was a potential crime scene. Upon arrival, it was determined the residence was a crime scene.
The Arkansas State Police were requested to work the crime scene. The driver is currently being held at the Garland County Sheriffs department. Foul play is suspected and further information will be available upon further investigation.
On February 22, 2019, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office received a call from a resident on Gaston Road stating his vehicle had been taken by an unknown individual. The resident described the suspect, the vehicle, and provided a direction of travel. A short time later a second vehicle was reported taken in the Black Springs area. The resident reporting the second vehicle was also at home when the vehicle was taken.
The first vehicle reported was located in a creek in Black Springs. A short time later, Arkansas Game and Fish Officer, Joe Weston, made contact with the second vehicle in Garland County in the area of Old Dallas Road. Officer Weston was able to confirm the license plate with the MCSO Dispatch as the vehicle taken from the Black Springs area.
Officer Weston then tried to stop the vehicle and the vehicle sped up, attempting to elude Officer Weston. The pursuit continued on Pearcy Road across Highway 70. The vehicle eventually slid off the road into the ditch and the driver fled on foot.
Officer Weston and officers from Arkansas State Police located Mr. Xai Yang a short distance from the vehicle in the woods. Mr. Yang was taken into custody for Fleeing and transported to the Garland County Detention Facility. Warrants have been issued in Montgomery County for theft of the vehicles. (All suspects are presumed innocent until found guilty in the court of law.)
Mr. Forest was located Wednesday afternoon. Officers searching for him found him close to the Caddo River. State Police were called to the scene. Notification to family has been made and his body was sent to the Medical Examiner’s Office at the State Crime Lab. Preliminary indications appear to be natural causes.
On January 15, 2019, the family of Mr. Harold Forest reported that they had not seen him in the last few days. They also said that they had not been able to make contact with him. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Pike County Sheriff’s Office started following up on leads and did a search of the immediate area where his vehicle was found parked in the Glenwood area. Mr. Forest has a yellow lab that is always with him. The dog has not been located either. He was last seen wearing a black button-up shirt with camouflage pockets and blue jeans. A Silver Alert has been issued for Mr. Forrest. He has also been entered as a Missing Person.
If anyone has information on the whereabouts of Mr. Forest especially on Saturday, January 12th or Sunday, January 13th please contact the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office at 870-867-3151 or the Pike County Sheriff’s Office at 870-285-3301.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
SHERIFF DAVID E. WHITE
On May 23, 2018, Sheriff David White, received a call from the owner of a local business in Mount Ida, Arkansas. She stated that an employee, Mrs. Wanda Gill, had not shown up for work on April 27, 2018. When Mrs. Gill finished her shift at 5 p.m. on April 26, 2018, she had not stated anything regarding not being able to work her shift the following day. The owner attempted to call Wanda on April 27, 2018 without any answer. She then contacted the alternate number that belonged to Joe Gill, Wanda Gill's husband. Mr. Gill answered the call and stated that Wanda was physically not able to work there anymore.
Also on May 23, 2018, Sheriff White went to a local campground and spoke with the owners where Wanda Gill and Joe Gill were renting a campsite. He then made contact with an individual at a neighboring campsite that stated he had not seen the small white SUV that Wanda Gill drove for a while. A few days later, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office received a phone call from the neighbor stating Joe Gill was at the campsite. Sheriff White went to the campsite and spoke to Joe Gill. Mr. Gill stated that he and Wanda had gotten into an argument. Sheriff White requested that Mr. Gill contact me if he heard from Mrs. Gill. While there I looked around his truck, the campsite and woods behind and saw nothing to led me to believe Wanda was there and I saw no signs of a struggle.
On July 6, 2018, Sheriff White spoke with the owner of the local business to see if she had made contact with Wanda Gill and he was advised that she had not. He then called the previous employment of Wanda Gill in Monticello, Arkansas and spoke with a former co-worker and friend of Mrs. Gill, who stated she had not heard from her in some time. She was able to provide me the name of a relative in Jacksonville, Arkansas. Sheriff White reached out to the relative on Facebook and received a call back. The relative stated she had not heard from Wanda in several months. The relative filled out an affidavit so the sheriff's office could officially enter Wanda Gill as a missing person in ACIC/NCIC.
On July 12, 2018, Sheriff White received information that Wanda Gill's vehicle was parked behind a house in Arkansas City. On July 13, 2018, contact was made with the land owner and he said the car was parked behind his shop. Joe Gill and his son parked it behind there earlier this week. When officers arrived at the shop, the vehicle was gone.
On July 13, 2018, Wanda Gill's vehicle was located at a motel in Lake Village, Arkansas where the vehicle was seized.
Several agencies across the state have assisted in the case including Desha County Sheriff's Office, Chicot County Sheriff's Office, Bradley County Sheriff's Office, Lake Village Police Department, Monticello Police Department, 10th Judicial Drug Task Force, 18th West Judicial Drug Task Force, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and the Arkansas State Police.
If anyone has any information regarding the location of Wanda Gill, if anyone has had contact with Wanda Gill, or if anyone remembers seeing Wanda Gill's 2011 White Toyota RAV 4 prior to July 13, 2018, please contact the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office at 870-867-3151.
On Friday April 20, 2018, after an extensive investigation, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office arrested Bill Walden Sr of Mt. Ida, Bambi Ellison of Mt. Ida, and Billy Walden Jr of Mt. Ida on charges stemming from an incident that occurred on February 11, 2018. Billy Walden Sr is being charged with First Degree Battery and First Degree Terroristic Threatening. Ellison is being charged with First Degree Battery. Billy Walden Jr is being charged with First Degree Battery, First Degree Terroristic Threatening, and Criminal Use of Prohibited Weapons. All three subjects were taken into custody at their respective residences without incident and booked into the Montgomery County Jail where they later posted bond.
On April 15, 2018, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office executed a Search Warrant at a residence on Bear Run Rd. Inv. Jeremy Lea with the 18th West Judicial Drug Task Force assisted with the warrant. The search warrant was based off of Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia in the residence. During the search of the residence, officers located several Medical Marijuana packages with different assortments in each. They also discovered honey and other snacks with active Marijuana ingredients in them. Marijuana Brownease and Snickerdoodle were located in the residence. Approximately 5.5 ounces of Marijuana were found in the home.
“The way the Marijuana industry is marketing these items with the “Medical” label and the way they use candy and other items can lead people, especially children, to believe that they are safe. This is the sort of thing that is coming to Arkansas when the Medical Marijuana gets started.”
The owner of the residence, Mr. Scott Harmon, 56, was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance and posted a bond. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
On September 29, 2017, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a domestic altercation off of Liberty Rd. Deputies responded to the scene and made contact with a Mr. David Goings of Texas. Mr. Goings was on parole for felony violations. When deputies made contact, with Mr. Goings, he fled on foot into a thicket. A perimeter was established and the Arkansas Department of Corrections K-9 team was called to the scene to assist. A short time after the team arrived at the scene, they located Mr. Goings hiding in a thicket near Liberty Rd. He was taken into custody and transported to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Mr. Goings was charged with fleeing, disorderly conduct, and obstructing governmental operations. A crystal-like substance believed to be Methamphetamine was also located in his wallet. The substance will be sent to the crime lab for analysis.
Sheriff White wants to thank the K-9 team for their efforts in the search. “We couldn’t have done it without them. During my seven years of office I have had to call on them several times. They are an awesome bunch of guys and always willing and eager to help.”
In recent years, Montgomery County has experienced a spike in the number of arrest of people from outside the area. This includes several arrests from out-of-state including Washington, Oregon, Kentucky, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, and Texas to name a few.