Archive for Tuesday, November 9, 1999

Police hold relative of slain girl

November 9, 1999

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— The Jefferson County Sheriff is keeping a tight lip on information regarding when the 14-year-old girl died.

Fifteen minutes after Jefferson County Sheriff's officers discovered the body of a 14-year-old girl in a ditch early Monday, they arrested the brother of the girl's brother-in-law.

Thomas E. Bledsoe, 25, is being held in the Jefferson County Jail here in connection with the death of Zetta Camille Arfmann.

Jefferson County Sheriff Roy Dunnaway said he expects Bledsoe will be charged with first-degree murder in Arfmann's death.

County Atty. Jim Vanderbilt's office declined to comment about the case.

Arfmann -- who went by Camille -- was reported missing early Saturday by family members, Dunnaway said.

Her body was discovered about 2:30 a.m. Monday in a ditch three miles northwest of Oskaloosa. Sheriff's officers went there in response to a telephone tip, Dunnaway said.

"She was hidden," he said of Arfmann's body. "You couldn't walk up and see it. Dirt and trash was thrown on top of her."

The same tip also led sheriff's officers to Bledsoe, whose residence is "not very far" from where the body was found, Dunnaway said.

The tip did not come from Bledsoe, Dunnaway said. He had not been questioned by sheriff's officers Monday and had retained Oskaloosa attorney Michael Hayes.

Hayes wouldn't comment about the case.

Arfmann died of a gunshot wound, the sheriff said. He wouldn't say where on her body she was shot or provide information about other injuries. Nor would he say how long she had been dead when found.

An autopsy was performed Monday but a complete report was not available Monday evening, the sheriff said.

Mystery began Friday

Sheriff's officers still are trying to determine where Arfmann was killed.

"We don't know where the crime scene's at for sure," Dunnaway said.

The girl was last seen alive at 4:20 p.m. Friday by a school bus driver who dropped her off at the home of her sister and brother-in-law, 15200 Fairview Road.

A friend who visited the mobile home at 5 p.m. did not see Arfmann there.

Some people reported seeing the girl in Oskaloosa on Friday evening, Dunnaway said, but that information had not been verified late Monday. Most of those who reported seeing the girl did so after being shown a photo of her.

Her sister, Heidi, and brother-in-law, Floyd Bledsoe Jr., said they believed Arfmann was attending a youth group meeting sponsored by Countryside Baptist Church. They didn't think anything was amiss until Arfmann's mother, Tommie Arfmann, called to ask why the girl had not come to her home in Winchester.

Arfmann was living with the Bledsoes so she could ride the school bus to Oskaloosa High School, where she was in ninth grade. Living with her mother during the week would have meant an 8-mile drive to and from school at least twice a day for Arfmann, Floyd Bledsoe Jr. said.

After hearing that the girl was not with her mother, Heidi and Floyd called the church group. They were told the girl had not come out of the home when a ride stopped by to pick her up at 6:30 p.m.

Family members began looking for Arfmann at that time. About 12:50 a.m. Saturday, they called the sheriff's office.

Sheriff's officers began searching the area early Saturday, Dunnaway said.

But Tommie Arfmann said the sheriff's office did not begin looking until Saturday afternoon.

Weekend yielded no body

During the day Saturday, Floyd Bledsoe Jr. stopped vehicles passing the home on Fairview Road to ask drivers if they had seen the girl.

Sheriff's officers used bloodhounds to try to trace the girl's whereabouts. They were unable to pick up a scent away from the house, Dunnaway said.

The bloodhounds also were taken to a location on the eastern edge of Jefferson County where on Friday residents reported hearing a "female" screaming, Dunnaway said. Sheriff's officers, responding to those reports, had checked the location Friday night and found nothing. The dogs showed no indication that Arfmann had been there, either.

"We don't believe she was out there," Dunnaway said.

A Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent joined seven sheriff's officers in the investigation Sunday. Another KBI agent joined Monday.

Hot line debate

Arfmann's relatives expressed frustration that there was not a hot line in place for police to contact the media so the reports of the girl's disappearance could be circulated earlier in the weekend.

"It would have been nice to have something like that," Dunnaway said. "It wouldn't have helped us any in this case."

Arfmann's death is the second homicide in Jefferson County this year. Clarence Rinke was shot Oct. 14 in his home in southern Jefferson County. Dunnaway said the two incidents are not related. No arrests have been made in Rinke's death.

Dunnaway asks that anyone who might have information about Arfmann's whereabouts after Friday afternoon call his office at (785) 863-2351.

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