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story.lead_photo.caption Gary William Dunn, 39 - Photo by Pope County sheriff's office

Bail has been set at $100,000 for a 39-year-old man who was twice tried but never convicted in the 2005 beating death of beauty queen Nona Dirksmeyer after his arrest Tuesday on suspicion of attempted kidnapping.

"The case will be given to the prosectors office and other charges could be brought forward then," Russellville Police Department Capt. David Ewing said.

Officers with the Dardanelle Police Department stopped Dunn after local law enforcement sent out a description of a suspect vehicle, but Russelville Police ultimately took him into custody.

"We were aware of his previous history with the murder trials when we came to pick him up," Ewing said. "He was taken into custody without incident."

Ewing said Dunn made a statement to investigators, but he said he couldn't elaborate further because the case remains under investigation.

Sam Strasner, a spokesman for Arkansas Tech University, said the school's Department of Public Safety will continue to closely monitor the campus 24 hours a day through patrols, security cameras and additional means in order to provide for the continued safety of Arkansas Tech students, faculty, staff and guests.

EARLIER:

A man who was twice tried but never convicted in the 2005 beating death of beauty queen Nona Dirksmeyer has been arrested in an attempted kidnapping case.

The Russellville Police Department said in a statement that officers arrested Gary Dunn, 39, in Dardanelle on Tuesday after he was developed as a suspect.

Officers said they responded about 7:40 p.m. to the parking lot of the First Baptist Church in the 200 block of South Denver Avenue to investigate a possible kidnapping attempt. When police arrived, the suspect had already left. The victim and witness provided a description of both the suspect and his vehicle, which were broadcast to surrounding agencies.

The victim, a 40-year-old woman, told officers a man approached her in the parking lot and attempted to force her into her vehicle. The victim said that she was able to break free, and the man then left the area by vehicle.

Police said officers were already investigating another incident that occurred on the campus of Arkansas Tech University a short time earlier. In that case, a female reported being approached by a man who asked her to step out of her vehicle. The female called 911, and the man left.

The suspect and the vehicle description were similar in both cases, police said.

Shortly after 9:30 p.m., authorities in Dardanelle stopped a vehicle matching the description of the one the suspect was seen in. The driver was identified as Dunn. He was booked into the Pope County jail, where he remained late Wednesday morning pending a bond hearing.

Officials with the Russellville Police Department confirmed that Dunn is the same person who was tried twice in the 2005 death of Dirksmeyer. Both trials ended with the jury unable to reach a consensus.

Dirksmeyer, a former beauty queen, was found beaten to death in her Russellville apartment in 2005.

Dunn was the second person to face charges in the death. Dirksmeyer's boyfriend, Kevin Jones, was acquitted of the crime in 2007.

Defense attorneys during Dunn's trials questioned DNA evidence said to link Dunn to the scene and argued throughout the trial that Jones was more likely the real killer.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, argued Dunn raped or tried to rape Dirksmeyer, his neighbor, before beating her to death.

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Comments

  • Packman
    December 5, 2018 at 5:23 p.m.

    The cops in Russellville royally screwed up the Dirksmeyer case and wrongfully focusing on the boyfriend. This pervert benefitted from hung juries because the cops provided reasonable doubt in their boneheaded investigation of Kevin Jones. Dunn went free because of the incompetence of some Russellville cops. FACT!

  • TheBatt
    December 5, 2018 at 6:55 p.m.

    Yet another example of a prosecutorial fumble - leading to two women nearly becoming statistics. Praise the LORD he was unsuccessful in these two cases, though it makes one wonder if there are others who have been victimized.

    Of course - when you have a boat load of evidence, then press the case so poorly that you end up with not just one but TWO mistrails... Sigh. I hope the prosecution does a better job this time.

  • Nodmcm
    December 5, 2018 at 7:39 p.m.

    Sometimes when a fellow has killed someone, and gotten away with it, the thrill of the crime beckons him to try it again. Attempted kidnapping of a stranger ought to result in some sort of ultra-supervised release once his prison term is up, sort of like a child sex offender.

  • NoUserName
    December 5, 2018 at 8:15 p.m.

    Packman is exactly right. Before we go blaming the jury, or two, lets not forget the prosecution took the boyfriend to trial FIRST. No way to convict Dunn when the prosecution started out thinking it was the other guy.

  • MaxCady
    December 5, 2018 at 8:48 p.m.

    So how do you explain Casey Anthony? 80% of the time it is the spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend, someone with close ties. Dunn lived in the same complex and had a direct sight line into her apartment. Plus he had a history of predation.

  • 2thepoint
    December 5, 2018 at 9:14 p.m.

    I agree that an investigation into his whereabouts in the past years should be done. Those states and cities should be alerted in case they have unsolved murders.
    He is extremely dangerous. I understand that he attacked a woman on a Russellville walking trail before Nona.

  • Jfish
    December 6, 2018 at 9:11 a.m.

    Yep Pack is correct. To Max and Thebatt, conscientious people don't convict people of murder when there is reasonable doubt, regardless of who creates that doubt. Law enforcement waited way too long to identify the most likely prime suspect. Also, if I am not mistaken, didn't Dunn have another incident with a woman in a nearby park before the Dirksmeyer murder?

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