Eastern Montana

Feb 17, 2012 7:47 PM by KTVQ (Billings)

Court document: suspect confessed to killing Sherry Arnold

Montana's News Station has received documents from the Richland County Attorney's office that detail the investigation into the disappearance of Sidney school teacher Sherry Arnold.

The documents reveal that Michael Spell, 22, confessed to investigating agents that he and Lester Waters, Jr., 47, abducted Sherry Arnold while she was jogging, and that Waters killed Arnold by strangling her.

The status of the Arnold investigation has not changed; Sherry Arnold's body has not yet been found.

Arnold's family and law enforcement believe that she was killed shortly after she disappeared during a morning run on January 7th, triggering a multi-state search that ultimately resulted in the arrest of Spell and Waters.

Here is a portion of the court document:

On January 11, 20l2, a tipster reported to law enforcement that Angel Cruz (female) said her boyfriend, Michael Spell, was stranded in North Dakota and was attempting to obtain money to get a bus ticket home. Cruz lives with Spell' s parents in Parachute, Colorado. The tipster advised that Spell and another male, Lester Waters, left Parachute on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, to look for work in the oil fields around Williston, North Dakota, near the Montana border. Cruz said that the two were driving a green Ford Explorer.

Cruz advised Spell told her that he and Waters were high on drugs and driving around when they picked up a lady walking along the road, killed her, and then buried her. Spell said he was scared of Waters and had gotten away from him, but was now stranded. Cruz said Spell's father also knew Spell was talking about his involvement in the kidnapping/homicide of a female.

During the early morning hours of January 13, 2012, FBI Special Agents from the Rapid City Resident Agency FBI located and interviewed Spell. Spell confessed to the investigating agents that he and Waters abducted Sherry Arnold while she was jogging and killed her. Spell expressed his desire to help investigators locate Sherry Arnold''s burial site and body. Spell said he and Waters left Parachute, Colorado, two or three days before Sherry Arnold was abducted. Spell said Waters was smoking crack cocaine during the entire trip. Spell said Waters told him crack cocaine brought "the devil" out in him and he (Waters) was capable of doing anything while using crack cocaine. Spell said Waters began talking about kidnapping and killing a female.

Spell said Waters was driving through a town when they observed a female running along the road. Spell said Waters identified the female as a person to kidnap. Waters drove down the road where the female was jogging and turned around and parked on the side of the road as the female approached. Spell said Waters told him to grab the lady and pull her into the Explorer as she jogged by the vehicle. Spell said the female was jogging on a trail running along the top of an embankment.

Spell said he got out of the Explorer and grabbed the female and forced her into the vehicle. Spell said the female struggled and her shoe fell off. Spell said Waters was mad because the shoe was lost. Waters threw Spell's knit hat with tassels into the large ditch as punishment. During the investigation, investigators recovered a knit hat with tassels from the large ditch beside the embankment near where Arnold's shoe was found.

Spell said Waters got into the back seat with the female and "choked her out." Spell said Waters then had Spell drive to a grocery store so Waters could obtain money from Western Union. Spell said he stayed in the Explorer with the female while Waters went inside the store.

According to the court document, Spell told authorities that Waters said he would kill Spell and his family if Spell ever told anyone what happened.

Spell confessed that the two men then apparently threw Arnold's clothing in a dumpster at Lonnie's Truck Stop across the street from Walmart in Williston.

Spell said he and Waters drove to a rural area outside of Williston and dropped off Sherry Arnold's body. The two then returned to Williston and purchased a shovel at Walmart. The two returned to the female's body, and Spell said Waters made him dig a hole two or three feet deep, and then they placed the her body in the hole. Spell said the grave site was at the end of a shelter belt on an old farmstead in a rural, isolated area outside of Williston.

Spell said he later observed missing persons posters depicting Sherry Arnold around Williston and began to feel remorse. Spell said he was afraid Waters would kill him. Spell said he called home and told family members what was happening. Spell said his mother encouraged him to go to Walmart and stay there, because Waters would not harm him while he was inside Walmart. Spell said he stole Waters' telephone and then began hitchiking until he got to Rapid City, South Dakota.

Evidence collected has been submitted to the federal crime lab for testing. Authorities are continuing to search for Sherry Arnold's body.

We will update you as we learn more.

Click here to view the entire court document (PDF).

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