Missing Child's Grandmother Arrested

Jewel Mitchell has been missing since May 8.
Jewel Mitchell has been missing since May 8.
Walter Mitchell is believed to have taken his daughter to Houston, Texas.
Walter Mitchell is believed to have taken his daughter to Houston, Texas.

May 12, 2003
Posted at: 5:29 p.m. CDT

PARAGOULD, Ark. -- The maternal grandmother of a missing Paragould girl was arrested Monday in connection with the May 8 disappearance.

Edith Walker was taken into custody about 4:20 p.m. Monday, according to Greene County Sheriff's Department investigator Rudy Ring. She is being charged with being an accomplice to kidnapping.

Walker's granddaughter, 5-year-old Jewel Mitchell, was taken by her non-custodial father, Walter Berlet Mitchell.

"Please bring 'Jewely' home," Walker told KAIT on May 8, appearing to plead with Walter Mitchell to release his estranged daughter. "Let us know she's OK. We want her to come home."

The ASP issued a Level II Morgan Nick Alert with the Mitchell kidnapping. It is believed that Walter and Jewel Mitchell are in the Houston, Texas, area.

According to Jewel Mitchell's mother, Valery Greer, Jewel was forcibly taken by Walter Mitchell from her mobile home in Greene County.

Walker originally had legal custody of Jewel Mitchell, 4 1/2 years ago while living in Florida. Valery Greer, Jewel Mitchell's mother, had just regained custody of her daughter a short time ago, and brought her to back to Arkansas.

Officials with the Greene County Sheriff's Department believe that when Greer gained custody of the child, the relationship between Greer and her mother began to strain. Additionally, Greer recently married her former stepfather, Edith Walker's ex-husband.

Because of all this, Walker told police that she feared for her 5-year-old granddaughter's safety and that's why they believe she aided in the kidnapping of Jewel Mitchell.

According to an affidavit obtained by KAIT, Walker spoke with both the Greene County Sheriff's Department and a social case-worker on May 8, the day of Jewel Mitchell's disappearance, and told the case-worker that she was concerned for there child's well being. Based on Walker's interviews, investigators continued to look into what possible role Walker had in the kidnapping.

"The continuity was not there," Sheriff Dan Langston said. "So we dug a little bit deeper."

The case-worker eventually turned informant for investigators after Walker told the her that Walter Mitchell was on his way to her residence to discuss plans on how he might remove Jewel Mitchell from Greer's home. Even going as far as calling Walker's home for directions.

"(Walker) gives (Walter Mitchell) information on how to get to the house," Langston said. "He gets lost again, calls back, gets more directions, gets lost again, calls back, gets more directions. The third time, Edith goes and picks him up."

According to the affidavit, Greer told investigators "that she and Walker had been in a bitter custody dispute over Jewel Mitchell, for quite some time."

"(Walker) was not only worried about the welfare of her granddaughter, but also her daughter," Langston said.

Walker is currently being held in the Greene County jail. Langston says she still denies being involved in the kidnapping, and does not know the whereabouts of Walter and Jewel Mitchell.

"If she knew, she would tell us," Langston said.

On this latest development, Greer would not go on camera with KAIT. However, Langston did communicate with her earlier in the day.

"She's upset," Langston said of Greer. "I think the fact that what has led to the arrest of her mother, and the worry of her daughter."