Montana News

Jan 8, 2013 10:54 PM by Angela Douglas MTN News

Sherry Arnold case moves forward on anniversary of abduction/murder

SIDNEY - Monday marked one year since the abduction and murder of Sidney school teacher Sherry Arnold.

Arnold, 43, was out on a Sunday morning jog on the morning of January 7, 2012 when she was kidnapped and murdered by two men.

The accused suspects are Lester Waters Jr. and Michael Spell, who had no connection to Arnold.

The case moved forward Monday afternoon in Richland County District Court on the one year anniversary of the crime that devastated the eastern Montana community.

An omnibus hearing was held for Spell at 1:30 p.m. During his arraignment in early 2012, Spell pled not guilty to the charges of deliberate homicide and attempted kidnapping.

During Monday's hearing, Judge Richard Simonton scheduled Spell's trial date for January 6, 2014. Richland County Attorney Mike Weber expects the trial to last four weeks. Spell did not make an appearance for the omnibus hearing.

The omnibus hearing of Waters was held immediately following Spell's hearing. Waters is also charged with attempted kidnapping and deliberate homicide. He pled not guilty to those charges at his arraignment in early 2012.

Judge Simonton set Waters' trial date for November 4, 2013, and the trial is expected to last three weeks. Waters was not present for his hearing.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for both suspects.

Supporters of Arnold were in the courtroom on Monday, including her husband, Gary.


January 7th: Sherry Arnold, a 43 year old teacher in Sidney, Montana is reported missing after failing to return from a morning run.

January 7th: A search begins for Arnold which includes 100 people, including 40 members of the Montana National Guard and two planes searching by air.

January 7th: Authorities recover one of Arnold's jogging shoes in northeast Sidney along Ninth Avenue. A substance which has not been identified by law enforcement was found on the shoe.

January 9th: The Montana Department of Justice issues a Missing Persons Alert for Arnold.

January 10th: The Federal Bureau of Investigation becomes involved in the investigation into Arnold's disappearance due to proximity to North Dakota and potential of kidnapping.

January 11th: A tip line is set up by investigators for information leading to the whereabouts of Sherry Arnold (406) 433-4027. Also, a "Help Find Sherry Arnold" page on Facebook garners thousands of visits.

January 12th: Formal search efforts are suspended until authorities receive new information.

January 12th: Arnold added to the FBI Missing Persons List.

January 13th: The Sidney School District posts on their website that it had informed students and teachers that Sherry Arnold is dead. The school says they were informed by Arnold's family.

January 13th: A press conference is held by Sidney police in conjunction with the FBI. Sidney Police Chief Frank DiFonzo said a 47-year-old man is in custody in Williston, North Dakota, and a 22-year-old man had been detained for questioning in Rapid City, South Dakota, both in connection with Arnold's disappearance.

January 13th: Hundreds pour into the gym at Sidney High School for a memorial vigil.

January 14th: Sidney Police Chief Frank DiFonzo confirms that the two men in custody have been arraigned on charges of aggravated kidnapping and are being held at the Williams County Jail in Williston, North Dakota.

January 15th: The two men held on charges of aggravated kidnapping are identified as 47-year-old Lester Waters Jr. and 22-year-old Michael Spell. Both men are most recently from Parachute, Colorado.

January 16th: Montana and North Dakota law enforcement, as well as the FBI, ask landowners in eastern Montana and western North Dakota to look for disturbed soil on their property. Authorities say they believe Arnold is deceased but they have not recovered a body. They believe her body may be located near a shelter belt of trees.

January 17th: The original citation issued to Waters and Spell from the Sidney Police Department is released. The citation sets the time of the alleged kidnapping at 6:40 a.m. at 900 East Holly Street, which is located along the truck route Arnold may have been jogging.

January 17th: Waters and Spell appear in District Court and bond is set at $2.5 million dollars for each man. The men do not agree to be extradited to Montana, so a formal extradition hearing must be scheduled.

January 18th: An arrest warrant and complaint are released. If Waters and Spell are found guilty of aggravated kidnapping they could face life imprisonment or the death penalty.

January 19th: Court records from Colorado reveal that suspect Michael Spell had been granted court permission to travel to Texas for a family emergency only two days before Arnold's disappearance.

February 6th: Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana formally requests that Spell and Waters be extradited from North Dakota.

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