Four years and one week after Patrick Arnold's body was discovered with a gunshot wound to the chest on the front porch of his Newport Township home, a neighbor has been arrested and charged with the murder.
Mark F. Stevens, 48, of 285 Bells Run Road, Newport, was arrested at his home Wednesday and held without bond pending a hearing that's scheduled today in Marietta Municipal Court.
"This is really shocking. I knew (Stevens) for years, it's just hard to believe," said Patty Carpenter of Newport, a cousin of Arnold.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Chief Deputy Mark Warden, left, and Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks speak during a press conference Wednesday announcing that Newport Township resident Mark Stevens has been charged in the 2008 murder of his neighbor, Patrick Arnold.
"I just want them to have the right person-that's what we've wanted all along," she said. "Everyone is very shocked, knowing he lived right across the road from Patrick."
Carpenter said she and her cousin were very close.
"We did a lot of things together," she said. "He was just a good, generous person. And I would still like to know why this happened."
About the arrest:
Mark Stevens, 48, of 285 Bells Run Road, Newport, has been charged with the 2008 murder of Patrick Arnold.
Arnold's body was found July 24, 2008, on the porch of his Bells Run Road home with a gunshot wound to the chest.
Investigators say recorded conversations between Stevens and an informant led to Stevens' arrest on Wednesday.
Stevens was being held without bond at the Washington County Jail Wednesday night and a bond hearing is scheduled today in Marietta Municipal Court.
Carpenter noted Stevens and his late father and mother had been good neighbors of Arnold for some time.
During a news conference at the county jail Wednesday afternoon, Washington County Sheriff's cold case Detective Jeff Seevers said he had a theory about the motive, but could not say anything more.
He did confirm there had been a struggle when the murder occurred.
Sheriff Larry Mincks said Arnold's body was found on the porch of his home by authorities on July 24, 2008. The 42-year-old had died from a single gunshot wound to the chest.
Stevens was among several people interviewed by investigators the day Arnold's body was discovered, Mincks said, but there was nothing that linked him to the crime.
"He was an original on a list of about five suspects we had developed," Seevers said.
A confidential informant told Seevers and sheriff's Detective Bruce Schuck earlier this year that Stevens had admitted to being involved in Arnold's murder, and provided information that only the shooter could have known, Seevers said.
"We used a body wire on the informant and recorded several conversations he had with Stevens," Seevers added. "We were then able to relate that information back to the crime scene. Basically (Stevens) has confessed to being at the residence when Patrick Arnold was shot."
In a statement released by the sheriff's office Wednesday, Mincks said Stevens initially denied any involvement in the murder but later confessed he was present when the shooting occurred.
"Mr Stevens again provided details only the killer would know," he said.
Chief Deputy Mark Warden said blood-spatter investigations and a re-examination of clothing from the scene had revealed more detailed information about the crime.
Seevers said with that physical evidence and continuing investigation he believes a strong case has been built that points to Stevens as the shooter.
Asked if others could have been involved, Seevers said no.
"I never thought there were multiple people involved," he said. "I've always believed there was only one individual."
Seevers said Stevens was unemployed, and had lived at his current address for 38 years. He said another man had recently been living at the residence with Stevens, but is not believed to be connected in any way to the murder.
Investigators notified Arnold's sister, Becky Klintworth, of the arrest on Wednesday.
"She was relieved," Seevers said.
Klintworth was not available for comment Wednesday evening, but Carpenter said she, too, was shocked at the news.
"She hopes they have the right person, too," Carpenter said.
Seevers noted that Stevens had also been arrested on an attempted murder charge in 1985, but was found to be incompetent to stand trial at that time.
Mincks said the investigation was completed with the cooperation of a number of agencies that included the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, the Major Crimes Task Force, and the Washington County Sheriff's Office detective unit.