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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Double murder in Cleburne County

  • The Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office reported the discovery of two bodies on McJester Rd near Pangburn that has resulted in capital murder charges being sought against Justin Nickelson, 25, of Pangburn.
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  • The Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office reported the discovery of two bodies on McJester Rd near Pangburn that has resulted in capital murder charges being sought against Justin Nickelson, 25, of Pangburn.
     
    According to information provided by the Sheriff’s Office, they began receiving reports of suspicious activities on the bank accounts of Gerald Nickelson, 61, and Rhonda Nickelson, 58, both of Pangburn and parents of the accused.  Family members had increasingly become concerned that they hadn’t been able to reach the couple and deputies had been unable to make contact or locate them. 
     
    According to the affidavit presented to the Circuit Court, on April the Nickelsons’ landlord reported the rent from the couple was late for the first time in over twenty years and, although he was eventually paid by Justin Nickelson, the check had been returned for insufficient funds.  The landlord also noticed the check did not appear to be written by Gerald Nickelson.
     
    In their search for Justin Nickelson, investigators learned he was being held in the White County Detention Center on unrelated charges.  The detectives conducted an interview with him at which time, according to the affidavit, he informed them his parents were deceased and the bodies were still on the property.
     
    Detectives obtained a search warrant for the property and discovered what they believe to be the bodies of his parents, Gerald and Rhonda Nickelson, in an outbuilding on the property.  Inside the home, they discovered a large amount of blood in the kitchen, the hallway, and in the dining room, which was being used as a computer room. 
     
    After discovery of the bodies, detectives conducted another interview with the accused at which time, according to the affidavit, Justin Nickelson told them he had recently come across information which led him to believe his father had sexually abused one of his sisters.  Nickelson allegedly confronted his father about it and his father denied the allegation.  He also stated he had been thinking about the matter for some time.
     
    Nickelson told detectives that on or around December 9th of last year, he awoke around 5:30am from a dream in which his father was abusing one of his sisters.  Nickelson stated that in the dream he was unable to stop the abuse and his mother was present in the dream but refused to stop it.  After waking from the dream, Nickelson stated in the affidavit that he resolved to kill his father because of the alleged abuse and his mother because she did not stop it.
     
    Page 2 of 2 - Nickelson the reported went into his parents’ bedroom and got a shotgun from the gun rack over the bed and two shotgun shells.  He then told investigators he shot his father while he sat at the computer desk.  After shooting his father, Nickelson’s mother ran into the kitchen at which point he reportedly shot her.
    Nickelson then told investigators he removed the bodies from the house and took them to the outbuilding, where Sheriff’s deputies found the body of Gerald Nickelson and Rhonda Nickelson, who had been placed in a green Christmas tree bag.
     
    The affidavit reports Justin Nickelson telling investigators he cleaned up the scene and continued to pay his parents’ bills to prevent detection as long as possible.
     
    The remains of Mr. and Mrs. Nickelson were sent to the Medical Examiner for an autopsy and were pending identification from the Arkansas State Crime Lab.
     
    As of the writing of this article, Justin Nickelson was still being held in White County but was scheduled to be transported to Cleburne to face to counts of capital murder.  No bond has been set as this writing.

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