2 arrests made in connection with 2011 disappearance of Harrisburg man

Thursday, July 31, 2014 | 12:40 p.m. CDT; updated 12:28 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 2, 2014
Charles Dwayne Bell, 34, of Harrisburg has been missing since Sept. 15, 2011. His family is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his whereabouts.

COLUMBIA — A cold case is heating up again after Boone County Sheriff's deputies arrested two people Wednesday who are believed to be involved in the disappearance and killing of a Harrisburg area man three years ago.

Charles Bell disappeared Sept. 15, 2011, and was reported missing Sept. 18. He was last seen on his motorcycle heading toward Columbia to run errands, his father, Charles Bell Sr., said in previous news reports.

The case, originally considered a missing-person case, is now a homicide investigation, according to a Boone County Sheriff's Department news release issued Thursday. Although foul play was suspected in 2011, there wasn't enough evidence until now to rule it a homicide, Detective Tom O'Sullivan said.

"We had strong suspicions on what may have happened early on, but without probable cause, we can't assume," O'Sullivan said. He said they had "nothing concrete" to go by in 2011, but now had new information.

The Sheriff's Department arrested Jennifer R. Freeman, 33, and Patrick L. Curl, 43, on Wednesday evening on suspicion of tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution, according to the release.

Freeman told the department Monday that she and Curl were present at the scene of the crime and helped clean up the scene and dispose of Bell's body, O'Sullivan said.

O'Sullivan did not comment on the believed location of the body but said deputies had yet to locate it and thought the homicide occurred at Bell's home, which is on Route E.

"We are continuing to follow up on information," he said.

In addition, O'Sullivan chose not to comment on whether the Sherriff's Department knew when the homicide occurred.

O'Sullivan declined to say how the department made contact with Freeman and said the case was still under investigation.

The bond for each suspect was set at $300,000, cash only. They were being held at the Boone County Jail.

Supervising editor is Samuel Hardiman.

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