Christy Wilson
Executive Assistant for Scott Ellington
Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney
(870) 932-1513 – Phone

Prosecutor Files Capital Murder, Abuse of Corpse Charges in
Abduction, Killing of 90-year-old Bay Woman

JONESBORO, AR, August 13, 2015 – Scott Ellington, District Prosecuting Attorney for the Second Judicial District of Arkansas, announces the filing of formal capital murder charges against a Bay man accused of the July 3 abduction and killing of Lavinda Counce, 90, also of Bay.

In a seven-count felony Information filed Thursday in Craighead County Circuit Court, Ellington charged Richard Jordon Tarver, 30, of 309 Harris Street, Bay, with capital murder, aggravated robbery, kidnaping, aggravated residential burglary, abuse of a corpse, theft of property, and possession of a defaced firearm. The prosecutor explained that the abuse of a corpse charge stems from Tarver allegedly hiding Mrs. Counce’s body in a cornfield on County Road 607, west of Bay, where it was not discovered for nine days until July 12.

“Today, on behalf of the good people of the Bay community and the State of Arkansas, I have charged Richard Jordon Tarver with capital murder, the most serious criminal charge on the books,” Ellington said.

Ellington credited the joint efforts of Sheriff Marty Boyd, Bay Police Chief Paul Keith, and the numerous officers from each of the law enforcement agencies working the investigation, as well as public support for building the case.

“The arrest in this case is the result of many hours of fine investigative work by law enforcement,” Ellington said. “The community support by the people of Bay and the surrounding area was outstanding, and this arrest is the fruit of their labors, as well. We are continuing to build this case and will pursue full justice for Mrs. Counce, her family, and the good people of Bay.

An Information contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

History of the Case:

Mrs. Counce disappeared from her Lunsford Avenue home on July 3. Her car was located the next day at NEA Baptist Hospital in Jonesboro. After an exhausting nine-day search, a volunteer searcher discovered her body on July 12 in a cornfield near Craighead County Road 607, west of Bay.

In the days following, investigators developed information that Tarver may have been involved in her disappearance and sought a search warrant for his Bay residence from Craighead County

District Judge Curt Huckaby. Officers arrested Tarver on July 17 following the execution of a search warrant by the Craighead County Sheriff’s Department and the Bay Police Department. He has been held since in the Craighead County Detention Center.