Families of Murder Victims Hope New Crime Lab Helps Arkansas Solve More Homicides

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SHERWOOD, Ark. – The governor traveled to northwest Arkansas Friday to announce the location of the state’s third crime lab. 

Kermit Channell, the director of the Arkansas State Crime Lab, said the new facility in Lowell will focus on toxicology, which means the lab in Little Rock can devote more attention to the state’s homicide cases. 

“Oh gosh, we just think about Frank every day,” said Paula Steinsiek as she looked at family photographs on her fireplace. “We talk about him every day. As you can see, Frank and I were always really big into pictures. Frank was a photographer even.”

Throughout 33 years of marriage, Paula and Frank Steinsiek built a home based on their favorite saying, “Live. Laugh. Love.”

“That was the most important thing in our lives,” Paula said.  

On Feb. 11, 2015, the love was still there.

“He was standing in this doorway right behind me and I was sitting on the couch,” Paula remembered. “He said he had an errand to run that afternoon because we were going to have a good Valentine’s Day. He walked over, kissed me and told me he loved me. That’s the last thing he said to me.” 

The life and laughter was taken away. Jeramye Hobbs shot and killed Frank in a motorcycle sale on Craigslist gone wrong.

“The person was taken into custody the very next day,” Paula said. “All of the evidence was found there in his apartment.”

The Arkansas State Crime Lab analyzed it, and case solved.

“He is serving a 60-year sentence for murdering Frank,” Paula said. 

In the years following her husband’s murder, Paula has met many families who are still searching for answers. 

“It’s so hard to watch the families grieve the loved one that they lost, but the not knowing, I think that would be one of the hardest things to have to deal with,” she said. 

Paula hopes the new crime lab in Lowell will help the state answer those questions. 

“To help solve some of these unsolved crimes,” she said.

Forgiving is still far away for Paula.

“It’ll be 2056 before he’s up for parole. I’ll be 96 years old,” she said. “If my children and grandchildren need to be there and I’m not, they’ll be there.” 

However, Paula is living and laughing again and will never stop loving.

“This is actually Frank,” she said, pointing past some pictures to an urn. “We have taken some of his ashes to Paris, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Puerto Vallarta. He’s gone on many adventures with us. The rest of him sits right here, and I get to see him every day.”

The Little Rock crime lab is still the only location that can work homicides. It also does autopsies in other cases like suicides and drug overdoses.

Channell said unlike other states, there is no statutory requirement in Arkansas for a coroner to send the lab a body, and it does not have the statutory authority to refuse a body. 

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