Sheriff's Department confirms draining pond in Bell homicide case

Friday, August 1, 2014 | 5:47 p.m. CDT; updated 12:52 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 2, 2014

COLUMBIA — The Boone County Sheriff's Department is draining a pond near routes J and EE in connection with a homicide investigation, Detective Tom O'Sullivan said.

Charles Bell was last seen Sept. 15, 2011, and was reported missing Sept. 18. On Wednesday, police made two arrests in connection with the cold case, which is now a homicide investigation.  

O'Sullivan said the pond was being drained and searched in response to information the Sheriff's Department received regarding the case. O'Sullivan confirmed the department doesn't know where Bell's remains are, but they now believe Bell was killed in his home in Harrisburg.

He declined to comment on the source of the information that led to the pond draining or what the department is looking for except that it's related to the Bell investigation.

The pond is several miles from Bell's home in Harrisburg in an area of unincorporated Boone County, O'Sullivan said.

The intersection of Routes J and EE is about 8 miles southwest of Harrisburg and is surrounded by several ponds.

O'Sullivan said the department has searched other ponds and areas in response to tips they've received, but this is the first time this pond or the area around it has been searched.

"We have searched numerous areas in what has been an exhaustive investigation," O'Sullivan said. "We have thrown a lot of resources into looking into any lead or piece of information and will continue to do so."

The department has made two arrests related to the case. Jennifer R. Freeman and Patrick L. Curl were arrested Wednesday evening on suspicion of tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution in the investigation, according to previous Missourian reporting.

Supervising editor is Samuel Hardiman.

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