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Community Offers Support Through Horrific Tragedy


The community banded together as the unfathomable events of last week unfolded, showing endless support to the law enforcement officers and then ending the week with a community prayer vigil for the victims’ family and to honor the slain after a four day search did not end as everyone had hoped. A benefit account was also established to assist the Scarbrough family with the multiple funeral expenses.

Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer publicly acknowledged and expressed his appreciation for the overwhelming support of the community throughout the week with many providing food, drinks, as well as an abundance of prayers as he and multiple local, state, and federal agencies investigated the disturbing case that shook this community to its core.

Hundreds gathered together at Janssen Park Sunday evening to honor the victims of last week’s quadruple homicide that left a family and an entire community struggling to comprehend and mourning the deaths of 2-year old Acelynn Wester, Reilly Scarbrough, just shy of his 10th birthday, their mother, Bethany Jo (Scarbrough) Wester and her uncle, Steven Payne in what is normally a very Mayberryesque community.

Pastor Lamar Austin prayed with the family present at the vigil and then offered scripture from John 14. Pastor ????? thanked the law enforcement for their “tireless efforts” and encouraged the community as they come together to always keep the memories of the four victims alive. He then spoke to the family and said, “To the family I say that we stand behind you, we pray with you and believe that God can be a comfort and peace to you during this time.”

The group that was gathered sang Amazing Grace as candles were lit then joined together in praise singing How Great Thou Art. Pastor Victor Rowell offered the final prayer and words of encouragement.

Steven’s sister, Kellie Yancey, lives in Yakima, Wash. and had to watch last week’s event unfold online. She expressed her appreciation for all of the efforts and the support for the family located in the county, “I would like to thank Sheriff Scott Sawyer, all the other law enforcement officers, the community, and Polk County Pulse for the searching. I would like to thank everyone for searching, assisting my sister, Carrie, and my other family members during this tragedy. It is so sad that this monster came into their lives. Thanks to the community for showing compassion to my family members. I speak for my other family members that live in other states… our hearts ache with such pain. Rest in peace Steven, Beth, Reilly, and Acelynn.”

Kellie shared with the Pulse her memories of her brother, “Steve was a kind gentle man who loved his family very much. He was very much loved by his niece and nephews. He had a great sense of humor, loved taking photos of nature and the shapes of clouds, taking care of his animals, rolling his cigarettes, drinking his coffee, and listening to his music. He loved his beard,” Kellie shared. “I once remembered him carrying one of his ducks and while doing this, the flapping of the duck’s wings made his beard fly up parted in the half!”  She continued, “He had beautiful penmanship. It was like calligraphy. He had 6 sisters to deal with and he handled that the best that he could. He taught us baseball but when it was his turn at bat we would say ‘we quit.’ Such rotten sisters we could be! He get so mad at us that he would throw the baseball at us as we ran into our house; thus, we became real good at dodge ball!”

“He and I picked fruit in Washington State back in the 80’s. He was very good and fast. Back in the late 1990’s, Steve won first prize on a ‘Days of Our Lives’ sweepstakes. He and our sister, Colleen, went down to Hollywood to see a taping of the show and Universal City. Part of the prize was a trip to Fiji but he cashed that prize to get the money. He used that money to move to Arkansas. He was a loving companion for our mother. They lived together in the same house. Our mother moved to Washington State in October 2015 to live with me. It makes me even more sick to think that she could had been the fifth victim of that monster, if she was still living there.”

Former co-workers describe ‘Beth’ as someone who was very “sweet” and “soft spoken.”  Reilly’s classmates noted that he was “fast” and that everyone always wanted him on their team but also described him as very quiet and shy like his mother.

A benefit account has been opened at the Union Bank of Mena to assist the family with the multiple funeral expenses.  The mailing address for the bank is PO Box 898; Mena, AR 71953. Please note ‘Scarbrough Benefit Account’ in the memo line.

Memorial services have been announced for all four victims to be Friday, May 5, at 1 p.m. at the CMA Iron Mountain Facilities.

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