MAGNOLIA, Ark. (12/24/19) — One family in Magnolia is gathering today but not to celebrate the holidays. Their loved one was found dead along a wooded trail Monday night and it’s dampened their Christmas spirit.
Magnolia Police Department officials say the fire department received a call around 8:46 p.m. of a brush fire in a wooded area between McNeil and Parkway Street.
When they arrived on scene, they discovered fire and the body of Marquis Easter, 29, of Magnolia. That brush fire quickly turned into a murder investigation. Easter was found with a “head injury” according to police.
“The fire department was able to put the fire out then we began investigation into his death,” Chief Todd Dew said.
Police didn’t confirm whether or not Easter was shot or struck with an object. However, people living nearby said they heard what sounded like a gunshot Tuesday night.
“Everyone heard gunshots which they thought were fireworks but the whole time it was him,” Easter’s God sister, Atavia Runyon said.
Easter was most-known to be called “Bud”. Family members say he was just a cool guy that had a huge heart.
The candle marks the spot where some of his Easter’s blood was found. Chief Dew never imagined this would be the way the holidays would turn out. It’s a tragedy for everyone involved.
“This is a horrible thing for the family,” he said. “They’re preparing for family get togethers and now this has kind of dampened that spirit. It’s a sad thing for them and our city.”
Police and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department are investigating this as a homicide. If it’s determined so, this will be the first of the year.
Officials stayed on the scene until around 11 a.m. on Tuesday continuing the investigation. They say they have started conducting interviews and hope to have more information after Christmas.
As for the family, the holidays have just turned over a new leaf; one they never would have imagined. Now, they’re just asking for peace this Christmas.
“They just need to be put behind bars,” Runyon said. “He didn’t deserve to be treated the way that they did him. We just need justice and prayers for the family.”
The wooded trail where Easter “Bud” was found is known to be a popular route for those passing through the neighborhood. After this week, it’ll be known for something other than just a shortcut.
Along with the brown leaves is now a trail of burnt wood, sticks and grass. The burnt trail can be found on both sides of the walkway.
Many of the family members and community gathered near the spot to try and piece together what happened.
Easter’s body was taken to the Arkansas State Crime Lab. Police are asking anyone with information to call them at 870-234-3765.