Judge denies bond reduction in Marked Tree murder case
Authorities also release details on case
HARRISBURG, Ark. (KAIT) - A Poinsett County Circuit Judge on Friday denied a request for a bond reduction for a Marked Tree man accused of capital murder in the death of an elderly man earlier this month.
Circuit Judge Keith Chrestman did not approve the bond reduction for Cameron Wray, 18, of Marked Tree.
Wray and Jordan Ratton, 19, also of Marked Tree, were arrested May 12 on suspicion of capital murder and aggravated robbery in the death of Mack Rhoads.
The Poinsett County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police and the Marked Tree Police Department were involved in the investigation of the April 15 murder.
Authorities also released details about an interview that Arkansas State Police investigators had with Wray as part of the investigation.
According to a statement from authorities, investigators interviewed Wray May 12 at a house in Marked Tree about the murder.
Wray told investigators that he and Ratton had been riding around in Ratton’s 2019 Dodge Ram pickup truck and had been drinking whiskey all day while they were riding around.
'Wray said that he was driving Ratton’s vehicle when he advised him (Wray) to pull into the baseball park off of Sports Complex Drive in Marked Tree between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Wray said that they pulled into the park and Jordan Ratton retrieved a tire tool from his truck," the statement noted. “Wray stated that Ratton stated to him that he was going to rob Mack Rhoads inside Rhoad’s residence.”
Ratton put on a black ski mask, gloves, a black sweat shirt and took the tire tool and black electrical tape with him, when he went into the house, Wray told authorities.
Rhoads’ house and the sports complex faced each other and Ratton was gone for about 30 minutes, Wray told authorities.
“Wray stated that when Ratton returned to the vehicle, Ratton was covered in blood,” the statement from authorities noted. “Wray stated that Ratton was holding some bottles of liquor. Wray stated that Ratton was also carrying two pistols and the tire tool.”
Wray also told authorities that Ratton went to an area, about a quarter-mile northwest of Marked Tree, along the St. Francis River and burned the clothes on the river bank.
Wray originally told authorities that the pair also threw the pistols into the river. However, authorities discovered a photograph of one of the stolen pistols on Wray’s cell phone and questioned him.
“After being questioned about the photograph, Wray stated that he had previously lied and that he took one of the pistols and Ratton took the other one. Wray said he tried to sell it, but was unsuccessful so he and Ratton went back to the river a few weeks later and threw the pistols into the river,” the statement noted.
According to the statement, investigators also interviewed a woman who is engaged to Ratton.
The woman told authorities that she attempted to reach Ratton on the night of the murder, but did see his geo location on Snapchat at the Marked Tree Sports Complex around 9:30 p.m. that evening.
Authorities also interviewed a former girlfriend of Wray, who told investigators she was sent a text on the evening of the murder from Wray, saying he was about to ‘hit a lick’, which is code for robbing someone.
Both suspects, according to Molder, are being held on a $1 million cash-only bond each.
He added the investigation is “active and ongoing. No further information can be released at this time.”
Rhoads, 87, was discovered in the 100 block of Brigance Street around 9 a.m. April 16, Arkansas State Police Public Information Specialist Bill Sadler said.
“Rhoads’ body and evidence that may be recovered will be submitted to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory. The state medical examiner will determine the manner and cause of death,” Sadler said.
According to the statement released Friday, Rhoads was found beside his bed with severe blunt force trauma to the head.
“The Arkansas State Medical Examiner stated that Rhoads was struck numerous times on his head with a blunt object, which is consistent with a tire tool,” the statement noted. “Rhoads’ hands were tied with black electrical tape and a pillow was placed within the tape on his chest. There was an excessive amount of blood splatter on the walls and bed.”
A full bottle of liquor was found in the middle of the kitchen floor, as if it had been dropped when the suspect left, authorities said, while several drawers and cabinets in the house were found open.
Special agents with the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are handling the investigation. Sadler said earlier this month Marked Tree police asked ASP to assume the lead investigative role in the homicide.
Region 8 News will have more details as they become available.
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