BY LEANN DILBECK –
Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer has released the identity of the male found in his home in Hatfield on Thursday as 66 year old Steven J. Payne. This is the second body found this week and two children remain listed as missing/endangered. Payne’s body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab. The Polk County Sheriff’s office and the Arkansas State Police are investigating Payne’s death as a homicide.
Sawyer confirmed that over 50 certified law enforcement from the FBI, Arkansas Game and Fish, Arkansas State Parks, U.S. Forest Service, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Grannis Police Department will be continuing the search today for Reilly James Scarbrough, age 10, and his sister Acelynn Carrie Wester, age 2. Both children were last seen around April 21st to 22nd. Sawyer stated that ground searches were conducted Thursday and are continuing today.
Their mother, Bethany Jo (Scarbrough) Wester, was found dead near a creek southeast of Cove on Tuesday. Authorities have not released the cause of death at this time, only saying that it is an “active homicide investigation.” Payne was the uncle of Wester.
Pulse Multi-Media has learned that Brian Bliss Travis, age 37, of Mena was arrested on unrelated charges to this case in the very early morning hours of Wednesday. Travis was the live-in boyfriend of Wester at 1110 7th Street in Mena. Sheriff Sawyer will not confirm if Travis is a suspect or person of interest.
Authorities continue investigating both residences and have them secured with tape as crime scenes.
Sawyer said, “We have been working around the clock. We are currently investigating two homicides and looking for two children. Every agency involved and every officer involved is committed to finding these kids. If anyone out there has any information on the location of Reilly or Acelynn, please contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the Mena Police Department, or the Arkansas State Police.”
Sawyer expressed his appreciation to the Polk County community for their support. “We’ve been inundated with food and drinks for search crews. I appreciate it and the guys all appreciate it.”
Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer and his team have worked around the clock since finding Wester’s body on Tuesday and vow to continue their investigation until the children are found and justice is served.
A benefit account has been established at Union Bank to assist the Scarbrough family with the funeral expenses of Payne and Wester.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of Reilly or Acelynn, please contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 479-394-2511.
Pulse Multi-Media will continue to follow this developing story and keep the public informed at MyPulseNews.com and on KENA 104.1FM.