Skip to comments.Town warier after girl's slaying - Arkansas victim met abductor through Internet, police say
Posted on 12/15/2002 2:51:33 AM PST by MeekOneGOP
Town warier after girl's slaying
Arkansas victim met abductor through Internet, police say
HOLLAND, Ark. - Holland is about as far from being a big city as you can get.
Eight miles from Conway and 60 from Little Rock, it is a community of 80 people surrounded by pastures and cows. It's the kind of place where neighbors look out for one another and few people lock their doors.
But now it's a town reeling from what many residents would have considered a big-city crime: the slaying earlier this month of 13-year-old Kacie Woody of Holland by a man authorities say she met in an Internet chat room. Police say the manner in which Kacie was abducted from her home and the planning involved have raised suspicions that David L. Fuller could have committed similar crimes elsewhere.
"This is just a horrible, gruesome tragedy," said Rickie Distin, whose husband is pastor at House of Prayer in Springhill, a community just a few miles from Holland and Greenbrier, where Kacie attended school. "This has opened our eyes that no area is immune to a terrible tragedy. But if something like this does happen, everyone pitches in and helps out."
Mrs. Distin said Kacie had attended church at the House of Prayer on occasional Sundays with a friend. She said the congregation - made up mostly of young families with children Kacie's age - was struggling to understand how this tragedy happened.
"It's just hard to believe," she said. "I think everyone now has an extra eye on the children in this community."
Kacie and her family were well-known in the community.
Described by friends as a quiet girl, she played in the band at Greenbrier Middle School and was a member of the school's gifted and talented program. The school district's superintendent, Michael Mertens, said Kacie was a "sweet girl well-liked by almost everyone."
Her father, Rick Woody, is a Greenbrier police officer and was on duty the night his daughter was abducted. Her brother Tim was attending a class at a trade school that night. She also had another older brother, Austin.
Kacie's mother, Kristie, was killed in a car accident in 1997. She and her husband were driving home from church when their car hit a stray horse that crashed through the windshield on the passenger side, where Mrs. Woody was.
Although Kacie's father worked at night, he stayed in touch with his daughter by cellphone.
"He is a very good parent," said Greenbrier Police Chief Gene Cotton. "This family has just had so much tragedy."
The Internet was a way for Officer Woody to reach out after his wife's death. He joined an online support group for people who had lost their spouses. The family also has its own Web site where a page is dedicated to Mrs. Woody.
His daughter apparently visited Internet chat rooms. And one of the people she met wasn't who she thought he was.
One of the people Kacie traded messages with called himself David Fagan and said he was an 18-year-old from California.
In reality, "David Fagan" was Mr. Fuller, a 47-year-old Persian Gulf War veteran and former used-car salesman who lived in La Mesa, Calif., a suburb of San Diego.
Police said Mr. Fuller traveled to Arkansas sometime last month and may have stayed awhile, then left. He returned this month, rented a motel room in Conway, then rented a van and a storage unit. Police say they believe he then went to Kacie's home the night of Dec. 5.
That night, police say, Kacie's brother Tim came home to find his sister missing and the family home showing signs of a struggle, authorities said. The girl appeared to have left the house without putting on any shoes. Her eyeglasses were left behind, with a lens popped out.
A missing-child alert was issued, and later authorities were contacted by officials in Georgia, who had been alerted by a 16-year-old boy in that state who had been chatting over the Internet with Kacie that night when she suddenly stopped sending messages. Before she stopped sending messages, she had told the boy that she was worried: She had received several unwanted phone calls from somebody she had met on the Internet last month and felt that she was being followed.
Authorities started following Kacie's computer trail. They came up with Mr. Fuller's name and tracked him to the storage unit he had rented. As they closed in, he shot and killed himself. Kacie's body was found inside the van, in a space where a seat had been removed. She had been shot once in the head.
Arkansas authorities say the manner in which the abduction occurred indicated some planning, and they and the FBI are investigating Mr. Fuller in connection with similar kidnappings in the United States.
"We are looking at anything that could be connected," said Lt. Chip Stokes of the Conway Police Department. "We are looking at his [Mr. Fuller's] past to see where he had been and if there are any other offenses."
At Greenbrier Middle School, school counselors have been working with students to help them deal with Kacie's death.
"It's almost back to normal," Mr. Mertins said late last week. "A few students are still getting counseling."
The community has rallied behind the Woody family. The Woody Family Fund was set up to help the family with funeral costs and other expenses. Last weekend, schoolchildren standing on street corners collected money in baseball caps to help the family. Other children cashed in their piggy banks and donated to the fund.
A Little Rock businessman who wished to remain anonymous stepped in this week and paid for Kacie's funeral, which was held Monday.
The school raised $3,500 for the family, and the bank is still taking donations.
Mr. Mertens said a need exists for Internet awareness.
"People here now want to know how to take precautions at home with the Internet," Mr. Mertens said. "We are going to try and get information sessions set up for parents and students. The Internet makes the world a smaller place, and I think parents are going to be a lot more watchful."
Suzi Parker is a free-lance writer based in Little Rock.
Horrible story. This is a good boy, though. Would the libertarians call him a statist? I wonder.
Inquiring police want to know.
Inquiring police want to know.