Father Thinks Daughter, Found In Ditch, Was Murdered

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Update 8/29/2013-

A 17-year-old male has been arrested in the death of an 11-year-old girl.

Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook says 17-year-old Christopher Sowell is charged with 1st. degree murder and will be arraigned this afternoon.

Sowell was arrested late Wednesday night and is being held on a two million dollar bond.

The body of Jessica Williams was found in a ditch near Gosnell, Arkansas Wednesday morning.

The cause of death has not been released.

Sowell and Williams rode together to school each day on a bus.


(Mississippi County, AR) An 11-year-old girl's body was found in a ditch, her dog standing guard over her.

The father of Jessica Williams called police Tuesday night, after a neighbor found the missing girl's bike in the road.

"I knew something wasn't right then. I went and picked up her bike and went to check," said Eric Williams, Jessica's father, said.

Her body was found around 6:30 Wednesday morning, about three miles from Jessica's home.

"It just breaks my heart in two. I loved that little girl," said Paulette King.

It was impossible for her to hold back the tears after learning her neighbor and young friend was dead.

King said Jessica would come visit her every day after school, but that routine changed Tuesday afternoon.

"I seen the bus when it went by to take her home. And I kept waiting for her to come down," she said.

"The father, the last time he saw her, she was out in the front yard playing and riding her bicycle," King added.

King said she had cautioned Jessica many times about being alone on the gravel road.

"I told her, I said, 'Hon, you shouldn't  be walking or on the bicycle on this gravel road.' I said, 'A lot of things could happen to you.'"

James Crowell' s niece used to play with Jessica all the time.

"Oh, she was a lovely kid. Very active, friendly. She had a dog and was always walking the dog. She was a good kid."

Late Wednesday night, family members were still coming to the area where the girl was found.

"I'm looking for some closure, maybe I can find something the sheriff's department missed", said Tim Southern, Jessica's uncle.

At the school in Gosnell where Jessica was a student, her classmates were first told early Wednesday she was missing.

But Bonard Mace, superintendent of the Gosnell School District, said that changed within an hour.

"And we come back an hour later and explained that she was found. And like I said, the news wasn't as good as we would have liked it to have been. The students were shocked and saddened."

Grief counselors were at the school all day helping students cope with the news of Jessica's death.

So far there are no suspects, and information on exactly how Jessica died has not been released.

Her body was sent to the Arkansas Crime Lab for an autopsy.