(Daily Mail) – The Montana math teacher allegedly choked to death and then buried in a shallow grave in North Dakota was the victim of a crack-fueled, seemingly random abduction, an affidavit filed in the case has revealed.
It offers the first details of what police believe happened to 43-year-old Sherry Arnold after she went missing during a morning run on January 7.
The affidavit is based on the alleged confession of Michael Spell, 22, a suspect in the case along with Lester Waters, 47, both from Colorado.
Spell told the FBI he felt guilty when he saw missing posters after helping bury Arnold’s body on a farmstead 45 miles from where she was snatched.
The alleged kidnapping took place just blocks from Arnold’s house in Sidney, where investigators later found one of her running shoes.
Police arrested the men a week later after Spell’s girlfriend said he had confided in her about the kidnapping, AP reported the affidavit as saying.
Spell and Waters had left Colorado days before the crime claiming they wanted work in eastern Montana and western North Dakota’s oil fields.
After smoking crack cocaine over the entire trip, Waters allegedly told Spell the drug ‘brought the devil out in him’ and began talking about kidnapping and killing a female, AP reports.
After they spotted Arnold, Spell claims that Waters told him to ‘grab the lady’ and pull her into their Ford Explorer as she jogged by.
‘Spell said Waters got into the back seat with the female and “choked her out”,’ the affidavit states.
After dropping Arnold’s body in a rural area of North Dakota later that night, Waters bought a shovel at a nearby Walmart. They buried the body in a two- to three-feet-deep hole on an old farmstead.
Waters returned the shovel to Walmart three days later, the affidavit says.
When he was arrested a week later, Waters was carrying a receipt that showed he had purchased bread, bologna and a shovel the same night Arnold went missing, according to the affidavit.
Spell was arrested on January 13 in Rapid City, South Dakota. He told police he had hitchhiked there after fearing Waters would kill him.
Police have still not found a boyd. They have asked property owners in rural eastern Montana and western North Dakota to look for disturbed soil in agricultural areas.
Williams County Sheriff Scott Busching said on Friday that numerous leads have come in as a result, but so far none have panned out.
‘We’ve checked a lot of spots but we haven’t found anything yet,’ Busching said.
Arnold, who would have turned 44 Monday, grew up on a ranch outside town and taught math for the past 18 years at Sidney High School.
She she was known for being a caring and competent teacher. Her husband, Gary, still works for the school system. Together they raised five children from previous marriages.
Aggravated kidnapping carries a potential death penalty in Montana unless the victim is released unharmed. The minimum sentence is two years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
Waters has a lengthy criminal background in Florida, where he lived until after his most recent release from prison in August 2010.
Charges against him included possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, sale of cocaine, petty theft, burglary, failure to pay child support, contempt of court, resisting an officer and multiple counts of driving with a suspended license.
Spell has prior arrests in Colorado on charges of drug possession, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual contact without consent, careless driving and driving without a license.
Charges filed against Spell in a pair of 2007 arrests were later dropped, although it was unclear on what grounds.
The most recent charges came in 2009 after Colorado authorities said Spell asked a middle-school student to text other students and ask them if they wanted to buy marijuana.
He was scheduled to be arraigned in that case in January. But Spell was given permission by a judge to leave Colorado just days before Arnold disappeared, after claiming his brother had been in a car accident in Texas.