Rape, poaching suspect arrested after jumping off 2nd floor

Rape, poaching suspect arrested after jumping off 2nd floor
Joseph Franklin Stewart (Source: Lawrence County Sheriff's Office)
Joseph Franklin Stewart (Source: Lawrence County Sheriff's Office)

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - A Lawrence County man charged with rape and poaching last spotted by police in late October, was arrested.

According to records, Joseph Franklin Stewart, 25, of Walnut Ridge is in custody at the Lawrence County Jail.

The Lawrence County Sheriff's Department did not comment on Stewart's arrest.

In October, Brookland police heard Stewart was staying at the Whitten Creek apartments with some friends.

Police went to the apartments searching for Stewart on a bench warrant for possession of firearm and fleeing.

Officers walked into the apartment and saw the balcony door opened. Police said they believe Stewart jumped from the second floor of the apartment building and ran from police.

A K9 officer then searched the area, but was not able to find Stewart.

Stewart's former girlfriend was at the apartment and told officers she had nothing to do with him and he wasn't welcomed.

In the incident report, officers said she told them Stewart 'does know how to survive out in the woods and that he can adapt very well to his surroundings.'

Stewart is also accused of running from sheriff's deputies and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission during a poaching investigation.

Police said Stewart has been on the run for several weeks and police need the public's help finding him.

Stewart was previously charged in September, 2013 with the rape of a minor female, according to documents filed in Lawrence County Circuit Court and obtained by Region 8 News.

According to the probable cause application filed April 20, 2013, detectives interviewed the girl. "During said interview, the minor female was able to give names and descriptions of the suspects in this case. The female victim also stated that during the alleged attack she believed she was being recorded and/or photographed on a cellphone," the report stated.

According to the report, another man told police that "Stewart had shown him images on his phone of a sexual nature involving the minor female victim."

White said Stewart was out on bond awaiting the rape trial when he became a suspect in the poaching case. He was wanted on charges of possession of a firearm by a certain person and fleeing, according to White.

Stewart is set to appear in court for a motion and plea date of January 21, 2015 on the rape charge, according to an order of continuance.

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