Sep 30, 2014 10:28 AM

Realtor's body found; suspect pleads not guilty

The Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) A parolee accused of abducting and killing a top-selling Arkansas real estate agent had contacted her to set up an appointment to view a vacant house, authorities said Tuesday, hours after discovering the woman's body in a shallow grave at a concrete company.

Police found Beverly Carter's body early Tuesday, five days after she went to show the house in a rural area near Little Rock and never returned. Authorities arrested Arron Michael Lewis, 33, on Monday on suspicion of kidnapping, and preliminary charges of capital murder and robbery were added after Carter's body was found buried at a business where Lewis previously worked.

Lewis, who was on parole for theft convictions, pleaded not guilty to the preliminary charges and remained in the Pulaski County jail Tuesday without bond. It wasn't immediately clear whether he had an attorney, though Lewis told reporters Tuesday while he was being taken to be questioned by authorities that he did not kill Carter.

When asked why Carter was targeted, Lewis responded: "Because she was just a woman that worked alone a rich broker."

Pulaski County Sheriff's Capt. Simon Haynes wouldn't say how the 49-year-old Carter was killed or why, but described her as "a target of opportunity" for Lewis. He said Lewis scheduled the appointment to see the home in Scott, about 15 miles east of Little Rock, but wouldn't say how Lewis learned that Carter was a real estate agent.

Haynes and Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay also wouldn't say what linked Lewis to the crime.

Prosecutor Larry Jegley said his office is still reviewing the case and that it's too soon to say whether he would seek the death penalty against Lewis.

"Events like this stain the soul of our community," Jegley said. "They leave scars, and we know that. And we also know that many of y'all are wanting answers that simply can't be given at this time."

Friends, family members and fellow real estate agents joined the search for Carter throughout the weekend. On Tuesday, many of them attended a news conference, wearing red shirts to honor the mother and grandmother.

"If you had a sweet scale, it was Beverly, and then there was sugar, and then there was other sweeteners. That's how sweet she was," said David Goldstein, a real estate broker who worked with Carter for more than 10 years. "Now, she was pretty feisty too. In her professional life, if you were being protected by her as a Realtor, if you were her client, that sweet had some teeth."


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