The vehicle that officers believe was used in a central Arkansas woman's abduction and murder was found scorched and abandoned Tuesday more than 80 miles from where it was last seen.
The discovery of the vehicle in which Elvia Fragstein, a 71-year-old Wooster woman, was last seen alive comes just one day after the Faulkner County sheriff's office arrested two teenagers in her abduction.
Fragstein, whose body was found on a rural road near Pine Bluff four days after she was reported missing on July 7, was driving a silver 2013 Honda CRV in Conway the day she was last seen.
Officers with the Jefferson County sheriff's office -- one of the three law enforcement agencies investigating Fragstein's death -- found the vehicle Tuesday morning in the 300 block of North Elm Street in Pine Bluff, according to a news release.
North Elm Street is a residential area, with several tracts open for development. In a photo supplied by the Jefferson County sheriff's office, the vehicle -- and the surrounding grass -- is burned and black. The tires are melted and almost detached from the frame.
In the corner of the photo, behind the vehicle, is a black car that appears to be untouched by the flames.
Few details concerning how law enforcement officers found the vehicle have been made available.
Faulkner County sheriff public information officer Erin Stone said Tuesday that because the investigation is ongoing, little information will be made public immediately.
In a Jefferson County sheriff's office news release, officers say they believe the car was set ablaze after Fragstein's death, though they did not say what led them to that conclusion.
Stone said no details about what investigators found in or around the car is being released.
Jefferson County deputies arrested two teenagers Monday in Fragstein's abduction. Neither was charged with murder. The coroner has ruled Fragstein's death a homicide.
Robert Lee Smith Jr., 16, and Tacori D. Mackrell, 19, were arrested Monday evening and charged with kidnapping and theft of property. Both teenagers have been transferred to the Faulkner County jail, Stone said, and will be charged as adults in the case.
Mackrell is listed on the Faulkner County jail roster as being from Pine Bluff. Smith has not yet appeared on the jail roster, and Stone said it is not yet clear where that youth is from.
Stone said no information about the evidence used to support the charges is being released. Stone said she could not speak to whether investigators expect more arrests in the case.
A news release from the Jefferson County sheriff's office Tuesday said both teenagers will "likely face additional charges pending formal filing."
Investigators began interviewing the teenagers Monday, Stone said, though she could provide no details about the interviews.
Fragstein was last seen on security footage on July 7 at the Conway Commons mall. Fragstein's husband, Helmut Fragstein, reported her missing later that day when she did not return from a shopping trip.
Security footage from Conway Commons shows Fragstein checking out from TJ Maxx at 3:42 p.m. and walking out of the door toward the parking area. Another security camera caught Fragstein's vehicle speeding across the parking lot toward Elsinger Boulevard.
The car then moves down the border of the parking lot toward Target.
The car slips out of the view of the last security camera, and officers didn't see it again until 10 days later.
Four days after Fragstein was reported missing, a resident traveling along Gibb Anderson Road -- a rural, sparsely traveled street that connects farmland near Pine Bluff -- saw a body lying near the road.
Major Lafayette Woods Jr., a spokesman for the Jefferson County sheriff's office, said deputies went to the scene but could determine little. No identification was found on the body, Woods said, and the state of decay prevented investigators from being able to tell the age or race of the person.
Faulkner County detectives reached out on July 13 and asked if the body could be that of Elvia Fragstein.
Fragstein's body was sent to the state medical examiner's office, where it was ruled as a homicide, according to a Jefferson County sheriff's office news release. The manner of death has not been disclosed.
Smith and Mackrell were arrested three days later.
Metro on 07/18/2018
Print Headline: Homicide victim's vehicle discovered burned out in PB