Press Releases


Homicide Victim Identified

Sheriff Shane Jones has released the name of the victim in the homicide, which took place Wednesday, September 15th. Charla Dawn Johnson, age 55, was found deceased by Pope County Deputies at a residence in the 500 block of Sand Springs Road. Sheriff Jones would like to offer his condolences and prayers to the family of Mrs. Johnson during this difficult time, and also thank the multiple law enforcement agencies who assisted in apprehending the suspect, Steven Ray Wood.


Due to the ongoing investigation in this case, no further information is available at this time.

Homicide Investigation


Steven (Michael) Ray Wood has been located and is in custody.


Pope County Sheriff's Office is actively searching for Steven (Michael) Ray Wood, a 56-year-old white male, in connection a homicide that occurred in Pope County on Wednesday, September 15.

On September 15, 2021 at approximately 11:25PM, Pope County Sheriff's Deputies responded to a possible homicide in the Crow Mountain area of Pope County. On Deputies arrival, a female victim was found to be deceased, and the suspect, 56-year-old Steven (Michael) Ray Wood, had fled the scene. A search for the suspect was conducted with the assistance of the Arkansas State Police Troopers and Helicopter, Arkansas Department of Corrections K9 team, Russellville, Atkins, and Pottsville Police Departments, and other local agencies. At this time, the suspect's location is still unknown.

Wood is considered dangerous, and should not be approached if seen.

If you have any information on Wood's whereabouts, please contact the Pope County Sheriff's Office at 479-968-0911.

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Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony

In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls, as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.

Sheriff Shane Jones would like to extend an invitation to the citizens of Pope County to join local and state law enforcement officers on Thursday, May 15 at 1:00PM for the 2021 Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony. This event will be held at the Hughes Community Center (1000 East Parkway Drive) to honor those law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty while protecting their communities. 

Homicide Investigation Update

Pope County Sheriff Shane Jones has released a statement concerning the five individuals found deceased on Christmas Day in a home on Pine Ridge Road.  Through evidence collected at the scene, and with confirmation by the Medical Examiner at the Arkansas State Crime Lab, it has been determined that this was a murder/suicide.  Sheriff Jones has released the names and ages of the victims and they are as follows:

Danielle Collins, 7

Levenah Countryman, 10

Abigail Heflin, 12

Jaquita Chase 31

Patricia Patrick 61

"While all loss of life is heartbreaking, this situation has been particularly tragic," stated Jones.  Sheriff Jones further stated, "Anytime children are senselessly taken from those who love them, the pain is beyond compare.  When you add to that the loss of the adults involved, the pain is unfathomable.  There are so many family members and friends who are hurting, dismayed and in shock over the events of this past Christmas Day.  We need to keep them in our prayers, as they will need many in the days ahead, and continue to reach out to them to offer any assistance possible."

Sheriff Jones also would like to thank the following agencies for the assistance provided to the Pope County Sheriff's Office during this ongoing investigation:

Arkansas State Crime Lab

Arkansas State Police

Atkins Police Department

Fifth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney

Pope County Coroner's Office

Pottsville Police Department

Russellville Police Department

Homicide Investigation Update




December 26, 2020

Incident: 20-14037



On December 25, 2020 shortly after 5:00PM, Pope County Sheriff's Deputies responded to an address in the 5100 Block of Pine Ridge Road on a report of a possible homicide. On deputies arrival five individuals were located deceased in the home.

All the victims were female, two adult females, and three juvenile females. Their ages range from 8 years old to 50 years of age, and all are believed to be related.

At this time, we believe this to be an isolated incident, and do not feel that there is any continued danger to the local public.


This is still an active investigation with Pope County Sheriff's Investigators processing evidence with assistance from the Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas State Crime Lab. We anticipate this being an in-depth investigation that will span many days in an effort to collect and process all the evidence on scene. 

More information will be released as it becomes available.

Homicide Investigation

**************PRESS RELEASE***************


December 25, 2020


The Pope County Sheriff's Office along with Arkansas State Police is on the scene of a suspected homicide involving multiple victims within the 5100 Block of Pine Ridge Road near Atkins, Arkansas.

At approximately 5:14PM Deputies received a call of possible victims located at a residence, and on their arrival the scene was secured for investigators.

This is still an ongoing investigation and no other information is available at this time.


Press Release 12-25-2020

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of this year, the Pope County Sheriff's Office and Detention Center has worked tirelessly to keep our inmates and employees safe. Due to recent minor symptoms of some inmates, the decision was made to test each inmate and Correction Officer. With the assistance of the Arkansas Department of Health, that has been accomplished over the last 2 to 3 days, and revealed that 30 inmates were positive for COVID, as well as 5 correction officers.

At this time there are no major symptoms in any of the inmates who have returned positive. Those inmates have been quarantined, and our on-site medical staff are continuously monitoring their health and wellbeing.

Sheriff Jones would like to commend Jail Administrator, Cpt. Rowdy Sweet and his detention staff for their tireless efforts to maintain a safe and healthy facility, and feels that we have been truly blessed to have remained COVID free up to this time.



District Court on 12/15/2020 has been cancelled as a precautionary measure.  If you were scheduled to appear on that date, your new court date is 2/23/2021.  

Arkansas Mask Mandate

On Thursday, July 16th, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a mandate requiring everyone in public to wear a mask, both inside and outside. However, there are exceptions. The mandate basically states that anyone in a public area, indoors or out, who will be around any non-household members and cannot maintain social distancing of more than six feet, must wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose. However, a mask is not required under several circumstances. Those circumstances include the following:

• younger than 10 years of age;
• with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
• performing job duties where a mask could inhibit the ability to safely and effectively perform the duty;
• participating in athletic activities where the mask would inhibit those activities;
• consuming food or drink;
• driving alone or with passengers from the driver's household
• receiving services that require access to the face for security, surveillance, or other purposes.
• voting, assisting voters, serving as poll watchers or actively performing election administration duties;
• engaged in religious worship activities;
• giving a speech or performance for broadcast or to an audience (however those persons shall maintain social distancing);
• in counties where the Department of Health has certified the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 to be low.

The mandate stipulates that persons in violation can be cited and, if convicted, receive a fine of $100.00, up to $500.00. However, first-time violators shall receive a verbal or written warning. Violators under the age of 18 shall not be cited but only receive warnings. People cannot be jailed or detained for longer than it takes to issue a citation. It also says the mandate shall not prohibit law enforcement officers or local officials from enforcing trespassing laws or other applicable laws in removing violators at the request of businesses or other property owners.

Sheriff Shane Jones stated he is confident that the citizens of Pope County have the ability to make their own decision as to whether or not they fall under the mandate issued by the Governor. He stressed that if you see someone not wearing a mask in public, it may be that person falls under one of the exemptions listed by the Governor's Office. Businesses may require patrons to wear a mask and, if customers refuse to wear a mask or refuse to leave the premises, the business is welcome to call law enforcement as this may be a criminal trespass situation. But, citizens in public not wearing a mask may very well have a legitimate, exempted reason not to. Please keep that in mind.

Judge Cross 2020 Census Press Release

April 28, 2020


Pope County Judge Ben Cross
Atkins Mayor Rowdy Sweet
Dover Mayor Roger Lee
Hector Mayor Carey McGee
London Mayor Eddie Price
Pottsville Mayor Randy Tankersly
Russellville Mayor Richard Harris


In a joint press release, all the mayors of Pope County's six incorporated municipalities, along with County Judge Ben Cross, would like to remind everyone of the pivotal importance of participating in the current 2020 census that is already underway. The census is each communities' opportunity to "stand up and be counted," and is virtually the only mechanism by which schools, cities, and counties can receive federal, state, and grant funding.
The census is the very tool utilized to afford individual representation on everything from local city councils to the U.S. Congress, and redistricting will occur following this census which will affect that representation for another decade.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports Pope County missed out on 28% of the population in the 2000 census and 26% of the population in the 2010 census equating to 15,438 residents who were not included in our 2010 count. This means our 2010 census of 61,754 should have realistically been 77,192. To put this into perspective, Governor Asa Hutchinson, in one of his recent daily press briefings, focused directly on the financial impact of the census to the state of Arkansas. He stated each person missed in the census count is worth $3,000 in federal turnback funds over the life of the census. To put that into local economic impact, that means the 15,438 persons missed in the 2010 census equaled $46,314,000 in lost federal monies over the last decade to Pope County and its' cities. With over 46 million dollars in impact to Pope County alone, the figures for the entire state of Arkansas reach into the billions in lost federal funding.
In light of our current conditions in respect to the coronavirus and its' extensive media coverage, we just want to emphasize the current census is of extreme importance and encourage our residents to participate as soon as possible. The numbers are reflected by the current Pope County participation rates as of this week:
Pope County Overall: 50.8%
Atkins: 51.5%
Dover: 36.5%
Hector: 40.9%
London: 40.8%
Pottsville: 46.9%
Russellville: 52.3%
As you can see, with barely a 50% participation rate, our communities, schools, and equity in funding, are at significant risk for the next decade. You can track your community at: https://2020census.gov/en/response-rates.html
The census participation has become easier to access than ever before with a first-time entirely online version in addition to traditional mail out varieties, and by phone. The simplest method involves just clicking on the link: my2020census.gov The average census count takes less than 10 minutes to complete, yet will benefit your community for the next 10 years.
The Pope County Library System has graciously taken the initiative and task of being the point of contact for anyone seeking information or assistance with completing their 2020 census return, and they may be reached at 968-4368. PCLS has trained individuals willing to assist anyone in Pope County who requests it.
Finally, we encourage every resident to immediately complete their 2020 census and let your voice be heard. Taking part in the census dates back to 1790, and by constitutional standards, has been deemed as important as your right to vote; it's a way to participate in our democracy and say, "I COUNT!"

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