Second arrest made in Jessica Williams case
BLYTHEVILLE - Scott Ellington, prosecuting attorney for the Second Judicial District of Arkansas, announces the arrest of a second defendant in the case of 11-year-old Jessica Williams of Gosnell.
Officers with the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department and the Arkansas State Police arrested Freddie Sharp, III, age 29, of Gosnell at 1:15 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, for the rape of Jessica Williams. He made his first appearance in Blytheville District Court at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Blytheville District Judge Shannon Langston found probable cause to charge Sharp with rape, a class Y felony, punishable by 10 to 40 years or life in prison and set bond at $1 million, cash only. Langston also ordered Sharp, if he made bond, to have no contact with the victim's family or any minor child. He was also ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device if released, Ellington said.
On Aug. 27, 2013, officers from the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department and the Arkansas State Police were dispatched to 5436 NCR 503 in reference to a missing child. A search and rescue effort ended at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 28 with the discovery of Jessica's body in a ditch near the Big Lake area.
During an autopsy of the victim at the Arkansas State Crime Lab, male DNA was recovered indicating the victim had been sexually assaulted. Investigators obtained DNA samples from several individuals, including Sharp.
"Law enforcement received information late last week that the male DNA recovered during the autopsy belonged to Sharp, within all scientific certainty," Ellington said.
Sharp has denied the rape.
Freddie Sharp III is slated to appear for arraignment in Mississippi County Circuit Court on Feb. 27 before Circuit Judge Ralph Wilson Jr. of Osceola.
First arrest in the case:
Christopher Sowell, 17 of Gosnell, was arrested on suspicion of 1st degree murder on Aug. 29, 2013, just one day after the discovery of Williams' body.
Sowell was released on bond last week after a judge reduced the amount of his bond.
According to the original information, Sowell first told authorities he had choked the girl and threw her off the bridge where her body was found.
Later he pled not guilty in court.
Sowell is scheduled to be back in court on Jan. 27.