Pulaski County sheriff's investigators arrested the wife of murder suspect Arron Lewis on Thursday and charged her with capital murder and kidnapping in the disappearance and death of North Little Rock real estate agent Beverly Carter.
Crystal Lowery, 41, faces the same charges as her husband, who was initially arrested and charged with kidnapping on Sept. 29. When Carter's body was found the next day, authorities added a charge of capital murder.
Sheriff's deputies arrested Lowery about 1:45 p.m. Thursday at her home at 156 Randall Drive in Jacksonville, according to an arrest report. She was wearing bluejeans and a blue T-shirt, and did not speak to reporters as deputies escorted her in handcuffs from the sheriff's office to the Pulaski County jail later Thursday.
Sheriff's office spokesman Lt. Carl Minden said he couldn't release details on what led investigators to arrest Lowery. Pulaski County District Judge Wayne Gruber sealed court files related to the case Sept. 30 at the request of prosecutors.
Minden said an investigation into Carter's slaying is ongoing and that he couldn't say whether there are additional suspects in the case.
"This investigation has never stopped, and we've kind of said that all along. It is sealed, but our investigators have been continuing to work on it," he said. "I've said numerous times we've had tips and leads, just tons of them, to finish working out. We've had suspicions all along. This is just something that, through the investigative process, they just happened to wrap up today and managed to get the warrant for the kidnapping and capital murder and serve it today."
Minden said Lowery "didn't really say much" to investigators after her arrest Thursday. Investigators had interviewed Lowery, a nursing student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the day Lewis was arrested.
"She didn't tell us anything at that point that gave us enough evidence to arrest her," Minden said. "Through the investigative process, we've managed to obtain enough to get the warrant. Exactly what that [evidence] is, I can't say, because everything in this case is sealed by prosecutors and the court. But there's a link there, and obviously a fairly substantial link for her to get the charges she has."
Lowery was arrested Sept. 29 on a misdemeanor charge of theft by receiving and was released from jail the same day. It was her only known criminal charge until Thursday, Minden said.
Carter, 50, was reported missing on the evening of Sept. 25 after she told her husband she was going to meet a potential client at a vacant house in Scott. Volunteers and law enforcement agencies began an extensive search for her the next day. Sheriff's office investigators found her body early Sept. 30 in a shallow grave on the property of a Cabot cement company where Lewis had previously been employed.
Lewis, 33, has pleaded innocent in the case. In a prison interview with a TV station earlier this month, Lewis said he didn't kill Carter and that "anything that did occur was an accident." He also said Carter willingly entered a car with him the night she disappeared and that the case against him was "not as clean-cut as they are wrapping it up to be."
Minden said Thursday that he didn't know if Lewis had provided investigators with information that led to Lowery's arrest. He said that because files in the case are sealed such information would not be disclosed anyway.
Court records show that Lowery filed for divorce on Oct. 17 on the grounds of general indignities, citing Lewis' murder charge and claiming that she didn't know he was a seven-time felon when they married April 20.
Pulaski County prosecutor Larry Jegley said Thursday that he was aware that the sheriff's office had persons of interest in the case but didn't know when Lowery was developed as "an outright suspect."
"The investigators accepted nothing at face value and insisted on conducting their investigation and verifying anything and everything that they developed along the way," he said. "I mean, obviously there were some things that they found interesting and worthy of additional inquiry, and that's really about all I can say on it."
Lights were on in Lowery's home after her arrest Thursday afternoon, but no one answered knocks at the door.
Neighbors said they had occasionally seen Lowery and Lewis outside the one-story brick house over the past year, but they didn't speak to the couple. The neighbors declined to comment further.
Lowery posted on her Facebook page Wednesday night that she was "going to have a great dinner with some good friends who have stuck by me."
"I am blessed to have their friendship," she wrote.
The day before, Lowery wrote on Facebook that she was glad to "have the good friends I have and to figure out who the snakes in the grass are before they bite me."
David Goldstein, Carter's friend and co-worker at Crye-Leike Realtors in North Little Rock, said Thursday that he hadn't heard about Lowery's arrest until a Democrat-Gazette reporter called him for comment.
"Praise the Pulaski County sheriff's office," he said. "That's awesome."
Goldstein declined to comment further.
Lowery was being held in jail without bail late Thursday. Minden said she was being kept separate from the rest of the jail population.
Her first appearance in Pulaski County District Court is scheduled for this morning.
Carter's family did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Metro on 10/31/2014