DNA ties suspect in Ark. anchor slaying to rape

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Forensic evidence gathered at the home of a slain television anchorwoman led police to a man now also suspected of raping a school teacher in eastern Arkansas, officials said Friday.

Curtis Lavelle Vance, 28, of Marianna offered a DNA sample to Little Rock police detectives during an interview Tuesday in his hometown, officers said. A day later, a man once only garnering suspicion for loitering in neighbors' yards became the prime suspect in a slaying of anchorwoman Anne Pressly.

"They asked if we had a suspect who could have done it and I told them we had a guy running around, getting in some burglaries, going in people's yards early in the morning, hanging around the house, hanging around the neighborhood," Marianna police Sgt. Carl McCree said. "That was Curtis Vance."

Little Rock police traveled 90 miles east to Marianna this week after DNA collected at Pressly's home matched that from an unsolved April rape in the town, McCree said. On April 21, a teacher there said a man attacked her in her home after she had woken up and taken a shower. She said she didn't see the man's face, and that he told her he had a gun and asked her for money.

"She didn't have a lot of money," a police report over the incident states. "She only had $3, and that the subject took."

On Tuesday, Vance voluntarily went to the Marianna police department to speak with Little Rock detectives and give a DNA sample, McCree said. By Wednesday, tests showed the sample matched and police tried to arrest Vance in Marianna but couldn't find him, the detective said.

Little Rock police arrested Vance near downtown late Wednesday night, about 30 minutes after holding a news conference to name him as the suspect in Pressly's death. Officers credited the DNA match to helping identify Vance as a suspect.

"That is part of what helped us get focused on him," Little Rock police Lt. Terry Hastings said.

During a brief hearing at the Pulaski County jail on Friday, Vance declined to enter a plea on a capital murder charge into Pressly's death. Pulaski County District Judge Lee Munson ordered Vance held without bond, and denied a defense attorney's request to set a bond amount, said deputy prosecutor John Hout.

"The affidavit included facts that there was forensic evidence found in the victim's home that connected him to the crime," Hout said. The prosecutor said he didn't have a copy of the affidavit. Hastings said Friday it had been filed to the city's district court, however court officials said they had not received it.

McCree said Vance faces rape and residential burglary charges over the April attack.

If convicted of capital murder, Vance could face either a life sentence or the death penalty.

A telephone number for the public defender's office rang unanswered Friday afternoon.

Pressly, 26, worked as a morning anchorwoman for Little Rock's ABC affiliate, KATV. She lived alone in the city's Pulaski Heights section, a mix of mansions and bungalows near a country club.

Pressly's mother, visiting from out of town at the time of the attack, found Pressly a half-hour before the anchorwoman was due on air. The anchorwoman had been beaten severely on the head and upper torso and died five days later from her injuries.

Police and prosecutors offered no reason why Pressly might have been targeted. One of Pressly's credit cards was used at a gas station after the beating. However, police said they believed the attack was random, not targeting her as an on-air personality.


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