Police nab suspect in anchor's death, seek answers

By: AP
By: AP

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Police for weeks had neither a suspect nor a motive in the beating death of a popular television anchorwoman. A suspect is now in custody, but many questions remain unanswered.

Officers arrested Curtis Lavelle Vance, 28, at a home in Little Rock on Wednesday night - tipped to his location after police held a late-evening news conference to reveal him as their suspect, said Lt. Terry Hastings, a police spokesman.

Vance was charged with capital murder in the death of Anne Pressly. The 26-year-old anchorwoman, who had a small part in the President George W. Bush biopic "W," died Oct. 25 - five days after being severely beaten in what police described as a random attack at her home.

Investigators interviewed Vance late Wednesday and early Thursday morning, Hastings said.

Vance lived in Marianna, in eastern Arkansas, but had numerous contacts in central Arkansas, Police Chief Stuart Thomas said. He named Vance as the suspect earlier Wednesday night and said Vance was traveling with a woman, three kids, a pistol and "lots of extra ammunition."

Within an hour of the news conference's end, officers were at a home south of downtown. Vance apparently was not armed when arrested, Hastings said early Thursday.

Police did not disclose what led them to suspect Vance. Thomas said only that the capital murder charge was based on "a very, very solid case due to solid detective work."

Hastings said previously that DNA and other evidence from the scene gave police a portrait of the person they were looking for, though they did not have a name until this month.

Hastings said Thursday that police would not disclose how they obtained DNA to match to a possible suspect, adding "We're going to be very tightlipped on this case, pretrial."

One of Pressly's credit cards was used at a gas station after the beating, but Hastings said security camera footage didn't provide a good look at the person using it.

Pressly lived alone in the city's Pulaski Heights section, a mix of mansions and bungalows near a country club. Her mother, visiting from out of town at the time of the attack but not staying at her daughter's home, found Pressly on Oct. 20, a half-hour before the anchorwoman was due on KATV's "Daybreak" program. The mother checked on her daughter after she didn't answer her daily wake-up call.

The anchorwoman had been beaten severely on the head and upper torso. She never regained consciousness.

Pressly was a native of Greenville, S.C., and moved with her family to Little Rock while she was in high school. She was a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., which has discussed establishing a scholarship to honor her.

In the Oliver Stone movie "W" - the subject of a news story she covered as the film was being shot in Shreveport, La. - Pressly appeared briefly as a conservative commentator who speaks favorably of Bush's "Mission Accomplished" event on an aircraft carrier after the start of the Iraq war.

Hastings said he did not know if Vance had an attorney. He said a public defender would likely be appointed to the case.

Vance was being held Thursday at the Pulaski County Jail, awaiting a Friday morning arraignment.

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