CONWAY -- A judge ordered two teenagers jailed in the abduction and slaying of a Faulkner County woman held without bail Wednesday.
Robert Lee Smith Jr., 16, and Tacori D. Mackrell, 18, appeared by video before District Judge David Reynolds.
The Faulkner County sheriff's office said Wednesday that it had added capital murder to the charges on which it was holding Smith and Mackrell. Investigators initially arrested the two Monday on charges of kidnapping and theft of property in the abduction and death of Elvia Fragstein, 72, of Wooster.
The teenagers are accused of kidnapping Fragstein on the afternoon of July 7 after she left the TJ Maxx department store at Conway Commons, a shopping center off Oak Street. The two are also accused of murdering Fragstein and dumping her body along a rural road in Jefferson County, where it was found July 11. Earlier this week, police found Fragstein's sport utility vehicle burned and abandoned in Pine Bluff.
Because of the continuing investigation, authorities have declined to release several details, including the manner in which Fragstein was killed and whether they suspect anyone else was involved in the crime.
Prosecuting Attorney Luke Ferguson said Wednesday he has not filed formal charges yet. He said it was too early to say whether Smith would be charged as an adult but said both suspects "were treated ... as adults" during their arrests. The sheriff's office has released the younger teenager's name, a practice not usually done in juvenile cases.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Carol Crews, who represented the state in court, said Reynolds set the pair's arraignment for Aug. 1. She said affidavits, which normally give details of a case, are not yet public.
Sheriff's Deputy Erinn Stone said she did not know if the suspects have been cooperating with investigators.
Police began searching for Fragstein after her husband, Helmut Fragstein, reported her missing when she didn't return home from shopping.
Conway police have increased patrols of shopping centers in the city of more than 64,000 residents.
Police spokesman LaTresha Woodruff advised people to continue being cautious Wednesday but sought to add some calm amid what she called a misguided post that was circulating on Facebook about the crime.
"In the post a woman says she got information from the hospital that a gang is specifically targeting women in Conway -- because it's a college town -- for the purpose of kidnapping and dismembering their bodies. This post is MISGUIDED and UNCORROBORATED," Woodruff said in an emailed statement.
"There is NO evidence to support what is written in that post," Woodruff said.
She said people should still be "cautious and aware of [their] surroundings at all times no matter what city" they are in. But she said, "Unfounded posts like these only seek to add chaos and confusion to an already alarming situation."
Woodruff said the police and the sheriff's office "have been as upfront as possible with the public without jeopardizing the prosecution of this case."
The sheriff's office is the lead investigator, though the Conway Police Department and the Jefferson County sheriff's office also are working on the case.
State Desk on 07/19/2018
Print Headline: Murder counts added for teens; No bail, orders judge in Conway