Update: Arrest in Killing of Elderly Garland Co. Woman

Betty Slaughter, 80, had been reported missing before her body was found burned

GARLAND COUNTY, Ark. - An arrest has been made in the murder of a local woman whose body was found burned in a cemetery earlier this month.

Authorities say Kevin Kay Buerke, 26, of Hot Springs is charged with Capital Murder in the death of Betty Slaughter, 80.

A gag order has been placed over the case and no other details have been released.

Buerke's booking record on the Garland County Detention Center website shows an additional charge of Forgery.

He was taken into custody on Aug. 23, the day after Slaughter was reported missing.


GARLAND COUNTY, Ark. - The body found earlier this week has been identified as missing 80-year-old Betty Slaughter.

The Arkansas State Crime Lab confirmed with the Garland County Sheriff that the burned body found at Lowe Cemetery in Royal, Arkansas is Betty Slaughter. 

Slaughter went missing from her Garland County home a week ago. 

The exact cause of death has not yet been determined.

A person of interest is in custody on unrelated charges.

The Garland County Sheriff's Office says investigators have been working this case as a homicide investigation from the beginning. 

Investigators will consult with Garland County Prosecuting Attorney before related charges are filed.  

Sheriff Mike McCormick would like the public to know that this is an active case and not be releasing any further information at this time. 

Anyone with any information should contact the Garland County Sheriff’s Office at 501-622-3660.

Original story:

GARLAND COUNTY, Ark. - The Garland County Sheriff's Office believes foul play may be involved in the disappearance of an 80-year-old woman and have identified someone who could be considered a person of interest.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Betty Slaughter, was reported missing last Wednesday, Aug. 22. Now investigators say they're not ruling out the possibility that her disappearance could be linked to a body that was found over the weekend.

Deputies checked Slaughter's home off Legend Circle where they say there were no signs of forced entry, but they did find evidence that made them suspect possible foul play.

On Saturday, the Sheriff's Office says a body was found at Lowe Cemetery, which is about 9 miles from Slaughter's home. According to a law enforcement source, the body was burned. The Sheriff's Office is waiting for the state crime lab to identify the body. 

"I don't have much hope that she's still alive," said John McDonald, a neighbor who calls Slaughter a friend.

McDonald says he noticed Slaughter hadn't been on her usual daily walk with her dog. 

 "We'd visit for 20 or 30 minutes in the afternoon. Very nice lady, kept to herself most of the time, didn't have people over much."

McDonald says he's wondering why she might have been targeted. 

The Sheriff's Office is not releasing more details about the investigation or the possible person of interest. In a news release Sheriff Mike McCormick said, “We are investigating this case as a criminal case rather than just a missing person. We ask for the public’s help in solving this case.” 

Anyone with any information on the disappearance of Betty Slaughter is urged to call the Garland County Sheriff's Office at 501-622-3690.

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