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Arkansas cold case solved after three decades as man plead guilty to first-degree murder

Little Rock, Arkansas – The resolution of a long-standing cold case brings a semblance of closure to a painful chapter in Arkansas’ history. The unsolved murder of Sabrina Underwood, a teenager who vanished in 1991, has finally been brought to justice, marking an end to a haunting mystery that lingered for over three decades.

Rick Allen Headley, a 48-year-old man already convicted of another murder, pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of Sabrina Underwood. This breakthrough came after Headley’s confession to the killing, prompting Arkansas State Police investigators to interview him. In October, he was formally charged with Underwood’s death, connecting the dots in a case that remained unsolved for years.

At the time of his confession, Headley was already serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. His previous conviction was for the capital murder of his estranged wife, Kirstie Headley, whom he stabbed to death in March 2018 in Mountain Home.

The plea entered by Headley in Fulton County Circuit Court on Monday, December 11, added another grim chapter to his criminal history. He received an additional 40-year prison sentence for his role in Underwood’s death.

Sabrina Underwood’s disappearance dates back to January 1991. The 19-year-old was last seen when her mother dropped her off near Bear Creek in Boone County. Underwood’s plan was to hitchhike to the North Central Unit prison in Calico Rock to visit an inmate. However, she never reached her destination and was subsequently reported missing to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.

In a tragic twist, a hunter found personal items belonging to Underwood near the Gum Springs Cemetery in Fulton County, in April 1991. Following this discovery, human remains were found nearby, prompting Fulton County deputies to seek assistance from the Arkansas State Police (ASP). The Arkansas Medical Examiner later identified the victim as Ms. Underwood, confirming the worst fears.

ASP Colonel Mike Hagar commented on the case, underscoring the relentless pursuit of justice by law enforcement. “We will never give up on finding justice for families like the Underwood’s, who still suffer the pain of Sabrina’s absence,” he said. Colonel Hagar’s statement encapsulates the enduring commitment to seeking justice, regardless of how much time has passed. “Today, we pray for peace for those who remember and love Sabrina,” he added, acknowledging the enduring grief of those left behind.

Ethan Sullivan



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