LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A construction crew on Monday demolished the small bungalow where an Arkansas television anchorwoman was fatally attacked.
Only a crooked light post and a little brick wall stood at the small lot Monday morning as a grinding back hoe broke the quiet in the upscale neighborhood where Little Rock television station KATV anchorwoman Anne Pressly once lived.
Earlier that morning, friends gathered in front of the home to release 40 pink helium balloons in honor of the slain 26-year-old, said neighbor Ted Treadway.
"I think this will give the neighborhood closure," said Treadway, 69, as the back hoe dropped debris into a waiting dump truck. "It upset us quite a bit and now there will be something new there."
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Pressly's mother found her severely beaten at the rented home Oct. 20 after the anchorwoman for the Little Rock ABC affiliate missed a wake-up call. Pressly died at a hospital five days later, having never regained consciousness.
Dick Flowers, who owned the bungalow with his wife Debra and lived next door, put up a "for sale" sign in front of the home in February. Flowers said he ended up selling the home to Michael and Charlotte Whitt, a Little Rock couple who have remodeled and built homes in the Heights neighborhood over the past decades.
Flowers said the weak house market slowed down the process of selling the home. He said Pressly's October attack didn't make the sale more difficult, though he acknowledged that the curious often drove down the narrow, tree-lined road near the Little Rock Country Club to see where the anchorwoman lived.
"Every other person stopped and looked," Flowers said.
Charlotte Whitt said she and her husband wanted to downsize and the lot provided the perfect place to build a permanent home after their grandson graduated from high school. Whitt said she met first with Pressly's family to make sure they had no objections to their plans.
"I met with them and they were so excited. They were so thrilled about what we were going to do," Whitt said. "You can't drive by there without that horrible memory coming back to you and I just think it will be a very healing thing for the neighborhood."
City planning officials said the couple had no demolition permit to tear down the building. Whitt said there was a misunderstanding and that workers immediately met with city officials Monday after realizing the error.
Habitat for Humanity came through the house before workers tore it down, taking windows and other valuable fixtures, Treadway said.
In November, police say that a DNA sample collected at the Pressly's home matched a sample from an unsolved rape in Marianna, about 90 miles east of Little Rock. Detectives focused on Curtis Lavelle Vance, who had allegedly been seen loitering around several homes that had been burglarized in the Mississippi Delta community.
Prosecutors say Vance has confessed three times to Pressly's slaying since his arrest. Vance has pleaded not guilty to the slaying and faces a capital murder charge, which carries either a death sentence or life in prison. Prosecutors have yet to say whether they'll seek the death penalty.
Whitt said prosecutors and police raised no concerns about demolishing the house before Vance's Sept. 9 trial.
"I just told the girls (at KATV) ... that we are going to have a little angel in the front yard, nestled in our landscaping somewhere," she said. "You can just look at that angel and think of Anne."