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Water and phone records played a part in an investigation that led to the arrest of a suspect in a Bentonville murder.


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James Andrew Bates, 34, was arrested Monday on a charge of first-degree murder, according to jail records.

Victor Parris Collins, 47, of Centerton was found dead in a hot tub at Bates’ residence when police arrived on Nov. 22, 2015, according to a police news release. Collins died of strangulation with drowning as a secondary cause, according to a probable cause affidavit for Bates’ arrest.

Police and medics arrived together and found Collins, who appeared to have a black eye, dead in the hot tub, according to the affidavit. The rim of the hot tub and concrete patio appeared to have been recently sprayed down.

Collins’ body was transported to the state Crime Lab, and the case was ruled a homicide on Nov. 24, according to the affidavit.

Police found a broken pair of prescription eyeglasses that belonged to Collins, his wedding ring, a broken shot glass and several jet head covers when they drained the hot tub on Nov. 25 while serving a search warrant at Bates’ home, according to the affidavit.

Police photographed bruises and scratches on Bates’ shoulder, back and belly at the office of his Rogers lawyer on Nov. 30, according to the affidavit.

Detectives met with Bentonville Water Utilities officials on Dec. 9 and reviewed water usage at the house, according to the affidavit. A smart meter measures hourly usage through the Bentonville system.

While the residence didn’t use more than 10 gallons of water an hour on Nov. 21, 140 gallons of water were used at the house between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Nov. 22, according to the affidavit. Police noted the water usage could have included spraying down the patio, according to the affidavit.

Bates told police that three men – Collins, Owen McDonald and Sean Henry —came to his house Nov. 21 to watch the Arkansas Razorbacks’ football game against Mississippi State.

Henry left at 11 p.m. and the remaining three moved to an outdoor hot tub where they drank beer and vodka, according to a police affidavit.

Bates initially told police that he went to bed at 1 a.m. and called 911 at 9:30 a.m. when he found Collins’ body, according to the affidavit. McDonald and Collins were in the tub when he left, Bates said, according to the affidavit.

McDonald told police he left at 12:30 a.m. to walk to his home a couple miles away but a person picked him up and gave him a ride, according to the affidavit. Dispatch records from that night showed a 911 call from a nurse who spotted a man near Southwest Cabernet and Southwest Elm Manor and because of the cold went back to pick him up.

A neighbor said he saw Bates arrive home with alcohol on Nov. 21 and heard music until about 1 a.m. Sunday, according to the affidavit.

Bates’ lawyer provided police with screen shots of Bates’ text messages and phone calls which showed a pair of canceled calls just before 1 a.m., a series of short or canceled calls at 4 a.m. and a call to Mc-Donald before a 9:35 a.m. 911 call. The calls were mistakes, his lawyer told police.

Bates told police he texted a female friend, then went to bed and got up at 4 a.m. to turn off lights in the house, according to the affidavit. Bates also told police his phone was locked by a passcode or fingerprint identification, according to the affidavit.

Police called for Bates’ arrest noting that Collins and Bates both had injuries consistent with a struggle, according to the affidavit. And Bates’ phone and water records indicate he was not asleep at 1 a.m., it states.

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Print Headline: Bentonville 34-year-old charged in hot tub death

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