HELENA, Mont. – Authorities said Friday that two men in the Dakotas were being questioned in connection with the death of a Montana math teacher who vanished last weekend when she left her house for a run.
Sidney police Chief Frank DiFonzo said a 47-year-old man was in custody in the Williams County jail in North Dakota, while a 22-year-old man was being questioned in Rapid City, S.D. He did not identify them and declined to answer questions about the investigation.
Sidney Public School officials posted a statement online saying they learned of Sherry Arnold's death Friday morning. The statement did not provide details.
"I think we are starting to find some closure in the whole deal," said Sidney Mayor Bret Smelser, who knew Arnold and her parents well. "The news is not good, and as far as I know we don't have a body yet."
FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson, of Salt Lake City, said a tip from the public led to the two men. The FBI hasn't confirmed Arnold's death.
The popular 43-year-old teacher from the oil boom town of Sidney near the North Dakota border had been missing since last Saturday morning. The only clue to her disappearance that had been publicly released was that one of her shoes was found along her running route.
Authorities had been investigating the possibility Arnold was abducted.
Karen Arnold Truax of St. Paul, Minn., the daughter of Sherry Arnold's husband, Gary, told The Billings Gazette the family wants some privacy and "time to process what has happened."
"We appreciate everything that everyone did to help us in this search. We are so heartbroken that this is the outcome," Truax said. "We just sincerely appreciate all the love and support that continues to come from the community."
About 200 people gathered at a hastily organized memorial at the Sidney High School gym Friday night.
Ashley Cooley, who graduated from the high school last year and had been Arnold's student aide, remembered her mentor as amazing math teacher.
"She loved what she did and she loved her students," Cooley said at the memorial. "She had an amazing heart."
Both Sherry and Gary Arnold were employees of the Sidney school system and have five children combined from prior marriages, according to the Gazette. Two live at home and attend the same school system where Sherry Arnold worked for the past 18 years.
Hundreds of residents, police, firefighters and others combed the town and surrounding countryside earlier this week. The school district provided buses to transport members of search teams and set up a fund to defer expenses.