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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Missing persons cases remain mystery

  • Three men who have been the focus of missing persons investigations ongoing for more than a year remain a mystery for local law enforcement.
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  • Three men who have been the focus of missing persons investigations ongoing for more than a year remain a mystery for local law enforcement. Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton said Tuesday that there is still too little to go on in the three separate cases, involving, J. B. Smith, 64, of rural Pike County, who has been wanted by authorities since May, 2011; Casey Clark, 31, of Fulton, whose car was found abandoned at a Miller County package store near Fulton; and, Joseph Christopher Cowart, 58, of Hope, who simply disappeared from his rural residence. “We've chased various leads,” Singleton said regarding the disappearance of Clark and Cowart. Cowart, who is retired from the U. S. Navy, was reported missing May 20, 2012, when HCSO deputies were dispatched to his rural residence at 3096 Highway 174 South, as the result of contact by Cowart's uncle. Singleton said Cowart's uncle told the deputies that he was in daily contact with his nephew and had no contact with him since May 15. Singleton said Cowart's pickup truck was still parked in the carport at his residence when the uncle arrived and the house was secured. He said a search by deputies extended into wooded acreage beyond the residence, but nothing was found. “It's just like he vanished off the face of the Earth,” Singleton said. Cowart is described as a white male, standing six feet tall, weighing about 195 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. The clothing which he was last wearing is not known. There are presently no working theories as to why Cowart disappeared, Singleton said, since there was no reason for Cowart to have sought to disappear. He said the same was true concerning Clark. “We've put them out to all the missing persons websites,” Singleton said. Clark was reported to Hempstead County authorities as missing on March 30, 2012, after his family had no contact with him for three days and Clark's car was found abandoned at a package store in Miller County near Fulton. Singleton said Clark was with a friend, who lives in the Amandex Apartments in Hope, on the night he disappeared, and that Clark's wallet was recovered from the unnamed friend's apartment. Clark is described as a dark complexioned African American male, standing about five feet, six inches tall, weighing approximately 175 pounds, having black hair and brown eyes. Singleton said there was no description of the clothing Clark was wearing at the time of his disappearance. Singleton said the families of both men have been eager to learn anything new about the cases. “They're very involved, and we try to keep them updated,” he said. J. B. Smith is wanted in Hempstead County on unanswered felony charges stemming from his failure to appear in court on May 9, 2011, and has been missing since May 2, 2011. Smith and his son, Jeremy Smith, 30, also of rural Pike County, became trapped by flood waters from a flash flood along Ozan Creek on May 2, 2011, when the pair fled the scene of a traffic stop in Nevada County and were pursued across two counties by Arkansas State Police. J.B. Smith was reported last seen by ASP Trooper Glendon Flowers as the elder Smith and son fled from their pickup truck as the waters of the Ozan Creek rose around it after the elder Smith drove into the flood waters on Hempstead County Road 51 between Blevins and McCaskill. Family members have reported, and county law enforcement offices have confirmed, that articles of clothing and personal belongings of J. B. Smith have been found in the vicinity of the creek, but lawmen said at the time that after a week of searching the creek bottoms that no other sign of the elderly Smith had been found. Singleton said Tuesday that the case remains active with the ASP.
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