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— Arkansas agency closes backlog of its abuse cases

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — A state agency that investigates reports of abuse or neglect of adults in Arkansas has closed its backlog of nearly 9,000 cases.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the Department of Human Services recently notified lawmakers that its Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Services Division has successfully eliminated a case backlog that had been building up for years.

Deputy Director Mark White says there are now 168 cases that need further investigation.

Department spokeswoman Marci Manley says the backlog was the result of caseworkers accepting all calls as investigative cases and often skipping administrative steps needed to officially close investigations. State law requires caseworkers to close investigations within 60 days of receiving the first report.

The division examines allegations of physical abuse, caregiver neglect, self-neglect and exploitation of adults who are unable to protect themselves.

Skeletal remains in Ark. might be of missing man

HEBER SPRINGS (AP) — Skeletal remains found earlier this month in north-central Arkansas are believed to be those of a man missing since late July.

Cleburne County Sheriff Chris Brown says in a news release that the remains found Dec. 2 are thought to be that of Roland James Jr. Brown says James was last seen on July 31 and was reported as missing on Aug. 29 by his father.

Brown says the missing man’s pickup truck was found by family members on Dec. 2 and authorities searching the area found the skeletal remains nearby.

The remains were sent to the state crime lab for positive identification and to determine the cause of death.

Man jailed for breaking into impound lot for car

HARRISON - A Boone County man was arrested Monday after authorities said he broke into a city impound lot and stole his vehicle, which had been placed there when he was arrested days earlier, according to a news release.

Robert Raymond Lambert, 44, was arrested by the Mountain Home Police Department Friday on various charges and was taken to the Baxter County jail, a Baxter County sheriff’s office news release states.

His vehicle was impounded by the city police at that time, authorities said.

The sheriff’s office said Lambert was released from custody on Sunday and he went to the impound lot to find his vehicle.

The lot was closed when he arrived and authorities said Lambert was caught on video walking across the parking area and crawling under the fence.

Once inside the fence, Lambert broke into another vehicle and used it to ram the gate open at the impound lot, the news release states.

Deputies said Lambert then went back inside the impound lot, got in his own vehicle and drove away.

Authorities said they found the 44-year-old Monday afternoon in Harrison and he was taken into custody on three counts of breaking or entering, two counts of theft of property, and felony and misdemeanor criminal mischief.

Lake to be drained in search for missing couple

HARRISON (AP) — A lake in northwestern Arkansas will be drained in an effort to find a couple that has been missing since a Nov. 30 flash flood.

The Harrison City Council voted Thursday to waive bidding requirements and spend an estimated $400,000 to drain Lake Harrison in the search for John Villines and Amy Villines.

The two disappeared after their sport utility vehicle was swept off a city street.

The SUV was later found lodged against a bridge.

Authorities believe the couple escaped the SUV, but were swept down a drainage ditch and into the lake.

Assistant Fire Chief Darrell Pace said articles of John Villines’ clothing and his wallet have been found in the area.

Mayor Dan Sherrell said he doesn’t know how long it will take to drain the lake, but said it will be “a slow process.”

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