EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) 6/14/21 — The Union County Sheriff’s Department has requested the assistance of the Arkansas State Police in the investigation of an inmate death that occurred on Sunday, June 13.
Robert Courtney, 58, of El Dorado, was pronounced deceased shortly before 11 a.m. after being transported from the Union County Detention Center to a local hospital.
Courtney had been monitored overnight by medical personnel at the detention center after complaining of chest pain and nausea.
Courtney’s body was transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where a manner and cause of death will be determined.
Special Agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division are continuing to conduct witness interviews and collect internal detention center video as part of their investigation that upon completion will be handed-off to the prosecuting attorney for review.
‘He took us exactly where to find her,’ Man allegedly kills his estranged wife one week after filing for divorce
UPDATE 4/21/21 — A man is being held at the Union County Jail with no bond after allegedly kidnapping and murdering his wife on Tuesday.
According a report provided by the El Dorado Police Department, Sheila Jones was at Corner Post located on East Main Street visiting with her son around 1 p.m.
She parked her Dodge Challenger in the parking lot in front of the business while visiting her son, Chris, who works there.
According to the report, Chris told investigators his step father, Robert Courtney, passed by the business and saw his mother’s car. He then parked his truck in front of the pawn shop located in front of Corner Post, , rushed inside the store and pulled out a handgun.
Jones stated Courtney then pointed the firearm toward him and Sheilia saying “we are doing this now, get in the car.”
During the altercation, Jones told investigators that Courtney struck Shelia’s cellphone with the gun when she started to call police.
“Get in the car and if I see a cop, I’ll kill her,” Jones recalled of the incident.
He told investigators Courtney forced her into the driver’s seat of her vehicle while pointing a gun at her. They then left the scene, according to the report.
When police arrived, Jones was able to provide investigators with a list of addresses that Courtney was associated with though they were unable to locate Courtney or Shelia at any of the locations. Captain Harwell says they called the Union County Sheriff’s Office to assist in the search.
Multiple agencies were involved in this investigation. The El Dorado Police Department booked Courtney on multiple charges including kidnapping, aggravated assault, interfering with emergency communication, commercial burglary and felony with a firearm.
Union County Sheriff’s Office Enter the Investigation
Courtney lived in a trailer home on 2033 Wingfield Lake Road before marrying Shelia, according to her son. Though, they lived in Parkers Chapel while they were married.
Captain Stinson said while detectives were searching for Courtney and Shelia, they learned his residence on Windfield Lake Road had caught fire.
Currently they don’t know if Courtney set the fire to his own home, if it was set by someone else or if it was just an accident.
Union County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the cause.
Alleged Murder Occurs
UCSO Investigators believe when Courtney and Shelia left Corner Post, they drove to an area near Huttig where he allegedly shot and killed her.
“It was a wooded area south of Huttig just north of the state line. It was about a little less than a mile into the woods,” Captain Stinson said.
Courtney then allegedly left the scene and took backroads to enter back onto Highway 82 going east towards Crossett.
Stinson says Courtney had made it over the bridge when the pursuit began with Ashley County Sheriff’s Deputies and Arkansas State Police.
The pursuit ended on Highway 52 in Ashley County near the Prairie Country Club. Investigators say the car caught fire though Courtney was the only occupant in the vehicle.
He was then transported to the Ashley County Sheriff’s Office where he was questioned by investigators who then wanted to know where Shelia was.
Courtney allegedly admitted to the crime, according to Stinson and they found Sheilia’s body around 8 p.m.
“He said that he had killed her. He took us exactly to the place where to find her.” he said. “He didn’t seem to hold anything. We know the end result and we are just working backward from it.”
Courtney is being charged with capital murder through the UCSO.
Motif for the alleged kidnapping and murder
Currently, a motif isn’t clear though Stinson says there were some indications that some of the property they shared was part of the contention.
According to court documents, a petition for divorce was filed into the Union County Circuit Clerk’s office on April 15.
The petition from Courtney and his attorney stated that he and Shelia married last year on July 25 and lived together as husband and wife until April 7 when they separated.
In this petition, the document stated Courtney is entitled to a divorce “on the grounds of personal indignities”.
According to the records, Shelia denies the allegations and requested the matter be set for trial at the Court’s earliest convenience though she was never able to take the case to trail because of her death.
“We know power was still on there but he didn’t indicate to us that he was staying there,” Stinson said. “It doesn’t appear they were staying together either.”
Courtney has his first court appearance
Courtney appeared in court for his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon. He is being held without bond.
The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for funeral costs. You can donate here.
UPDATE: Kidnapping victim found dead according to sheriff’s office and family
UPDATE 4/21/21 — According to the Union County Sheriff Ricky Roberts the victim involved in the alleged kidnapping was found dead Tuesday night.
Robert Courtney, 58, is accused of the crime. He is facing multiple charges including capital murder, kidnapping, burglary, aggravated assault and felony with a firearm.
This is a developing story.
Alleged kidnapping and police chase leads to an arrest in Ashley County, victim condition unknown
EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) 4/20/21– A man in Union County is in custody after police say he led officers on a chase late Tuesday afternoon.
According to deputies, a man in Union County allegedly kidnapped a woman at her job in El Dorado.
The incident led to a chase that ended in Ashley Co. off of Hwy 133. near the Prairie Country Club.
The suspect, identified as Robert Courtney of Union Co., is currently in custody at the Ashley County Sheriff’s Office.
According to deputies, the woman was not inside the vehicle when the pursuit ended. There is no word on her condition. According to family members, she is still missing.
Officers also say that Courtney allegedly set his house on fire located on Wing Field Lake Road near Junction City.
We are still gathering details and a sequence of events. We also have not confirmed the relationship of the suspect and the victim.
The Arkansas State Police has taken the lead on this investigation though El Dorado Police Department and the Union and Ashley County Sheriffs Officers are assisting.
This is a developing story.