A 29-year-old man arrested this week in the rape of an 11-year-old Mississippi County girl found dead last year has been ordered held in lieu of $1 million bond.
Freddie Sharp III made an initial appearance Wednesday before Blytheville District Judge Shannon Langston, who set the high bail after finding probable cause to charge Sharp with rape, a Class Y felony. He faces up to life in prison.
Sharp was arrested after DNA found on 11-year-old Jessica Williams' body returned to him "within all scientific certainty,” Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington said in a statement.
According to an affidavit released Wednesday, Sharp spoke with investigators after his arrest, denying "any involvement of the rape and [stating] he didn't know how his DNA could have been on Williams."
Jessica's body was found Aug. 28 in a ditch near the Big Lake area a day after her father reported her missing from their home.
A neighbor, 17-year-old Christopher Sowell, was previously charged with first-degree murder in the case. He initially told police he had grabbed and choked the girl but later recanted and said he had not killed her, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Wednesday.
Sowell was released from jail last week after his bail was lowered from $2 million to $25,000.