Extradition Hearings Slated In Teacher Kidnapping

Published February 14, 2012 8:27AM (EST)

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — Extradition hearings are slated Tuesday in northwest North Dakota for two suspects held in the kidnapping of a Montana math teacher who went missing more than a month ago and is presumed dead.

Michael Keith Spell, 22, and Lester Vann Waters Jr., 47, are being held in Williston on $2.5 million bail each in the kidnapping of 43-year-old Sherry Arnold.

The Sidney, Mont., high school teacher disappeared Jan. 7, about 10 minutes after she left her home to go running, court documents say. Her body has not been recovered.

The men face charges of aggravated kidnapping, which can carry the death sentence in Montana. No federal charges have been filed in the case.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has requested extradition of the two men, and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple has signed papers authorizing their extradition.

Authorities have not said what led to the men's arrests a week after Arnold went missing. Spell was arrested in Rapid City, S.D., and Waters was arrested in Williston.

Williams County State's Attorney Marlyce Wilder is prosecuting the extradition in North Dakota. Both men have court-appointed attorneys. Spell's lawyer is Tim Wilhelm, of Minot, and Waters' lawyer is Katie Barber, of Williston.

None of the attorneys returned telephone calls from The Associated Press.

Authorities have released few details about the case but have said that the kidnapping occurred in the same place where one of Arnold's running shoes was found the day she disappeared.

Farmers and other landowners in North Dakota's northwest corner and in far northeast Montana have been asked to look for Arnold's buried body.

The men came to the area from Colorado, though Waters is originally from Florida. Both men have extensive criminal records, according to court records.

Williston, in the heart of North Dakota's booming oil patch, is less than 50 miles from Sidney, Mont.

By Salon Staff

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