Woman Charged with Capital Murder in June Death of Caraway-Area Man

AUGUST 25, 2004 - Posted at 5:15 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR - A 43-year-old Lepanto woman identified as Judy Flanagan has been arrested and charged with capital murder in the June 12 death of 51-year-old Dennis Coats of the Caraway area.

Coats was last seen alive around 10:30 p.m. on June 12.  His body was found shortly before noon the next day in the St. Francis Sunkenlands of a remote, rugged area that most eastern Craighead County residents refer to as Hatchicoon Island, a wildlife management area near Caraway.  Authorities say Coats had been stabbed several times.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Flanagan contacted Sheriff's Department investigators last night.  According to the document, "Flanagan made several statements admitting her role in the murder of Dennis Coats."  The affidavit further states that Flanagan told investigators that "she drove to the management area with Dennis Coats with the intention of having sexual intercourse.  She said earlier in the evening a third party had given her a knife with instructions to kill Dennis Coats."  According to the police document, "The couple got into the bed of the pickup.  She then produced the knife and stabbed Dennis Coats several times.  Ms. Flanagan then drove the truck with Dennis Coats' body in the bed of the pickup to the third party's house."  The affidavit goes on to describe how Coats' body was then disposed of in the Hatchicoon Island area and covered with a blue tarp.

Sheriff Jack McCann says additional arrests are expected in the case.