LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Police on Wednesday arrested a man on a capital murder charge in the beating death of a popular television anchorwoman but offered neither a motive behind the attack nor details about why they suspected him.
Curtis Lavelle Vance, 28, fled his Marianna home earlier Wednesday with a 25-year-old woman and three children under age 5, Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas said. Police spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings said Vance was arrested without incident at a home in Little Rock about 11 p.m.
"We got a tip. We went there and he's in custody," Hastings said early Thursday. "As far as we know he wasn't armed."
Hastings said Vance knew officers had been seeking him. Thomas said prior to the arrest that Vance was believed armed with a 9mm pistol and "a lot of extra ammunition."
Anne Pressly, 26, died Oct. 25, five days after being severely beaten in her home. The anchorwoman's mother found her Oct. 20, a half-hour before she was due on KATV's "Daybreak" program, after she didn't answer her daily wake-up call.
Thomas said at a late-evening news conference that the capital murder charge against Vance was based on "a very, very solid case due to solid detective work." He offered no details, however.
Hastings had said previously that DNA and other evidence from the scene gave police a portrait of the suspect, though they did not have a name until this month. One of Pressly's credit cards was used at a gas station after the beating, but Hastings said security camera footage didn't provide a good look at the person using it.
Pressly lived alone in the city's Pulaski Heights section, a mix of mansions and bungalows near the Little Rock Country Club. Her mother was visiting from out of town at the time of the attack but not staying at her daughter's home.
The anchorwoman had been beaten severely in the head and upper torso and never regained consciousness. Her parents agreed to donate her organs to others after doctors said it was clear that Pressly would never recover. Six people received donations.
In the police station lobby before the news conference, several of Pressly's KATV colleagues quietly wiped tears from their faces. The station raised $50,000 for a reward fund.
Thomas said Vance frequently visited the Little Rock area, about 90 miles west of Marianna, and has a lot of contacts there.
Pressly was a native of Greenville, S.C., and moved with her family to Little Rock while she was in high school. She was a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., which has discussed establishing a scholarship to honor her.
In the Oliver Stone movie "W" — which was the subject of a news story she broadcast as the film was being shot in Shreveport, La. — Pressly appeared briefly as a conservative commentator who speaks favorably of President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" event on an aircraft carrier after the start of the Iraq War.