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Stabbings likely linked, Little Rock police say

3 of 4 attacks fatal; department advises Midtown area to be on alert by William Sanders | April 30, 2021 at 7:17 a.m.
A suspect in four stabbings is shown in this screenshot of video provided by the Little Rock Police Department.

Little Rock police officers are searching for the person responsible for four knife attacks, three of them fatal, dating to August.

According to Police Chief Keith Humphrey, detectives noted similarities and connected two knife attacks from April 11 and 12 to fatal stabbings on Aug. 24 and Sept. 23.

"Detectives took information from those cases and compared them to homicides from six months ago and noticed similarities in all four cases," Humphrey said in a statement. "It was determined then that these cases could possibly be connected based off the evidence in each case."

Spokesman Sgt. Eric Barnes said that the stabbings can't be labeled yet as the work of a serial attacker.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvrw4NkD2Is]

"We definitely can't say that," Barnes said. "We believe there's similarities [in the cases], but we're still trying to conduct every case [independently]."

Police put out a "safety alert" to the public Thursday, saying that the four incidents may be connected and perpetrated by the same attacker. A map detailing the sites of the crimes with estimated times and dates and video footage of a person were released as well.

Humphrey said there is only circumstantial evidence linking the attacks.

[INTERACTIVE MAP: Search all killings in Little Rock, North Little Rock this year at arkansasonline.com/2021homicides]

In a statement Thursday, a spokeswoman for Mayor Frank Scott Jr. called the stabbings "extremely troubling," adding that "Mayor Scott is disheartened by them and that they appear to be connected."

"The safety of residents continues to be his top priority and concern," Stephanie Jackson wrote of the mayor. "He is confident, however, that the Little Rock Police Department will apprehend the suspect in these stabbings and the shooting at Cheatham Park."

City Director Erma Hendrix did not return a call asking for comment on the incidents in her ward.

Officers responded at 2 a.m. Aug. 24 to 2200 S. Gaines St. where Larry McChristian, 65 of Yellville, was found dead of stab wounds, according to a report.

Investigators later confirmed the slaying occurred around 1 a.m., authorities said.

One month later, police responded to 4218 W. 12th St. just before 3 a.m., where a witness said he had found his friend, Jeff Welch, 62, unconscious on his front porch, a report said.

[MAP: String of Little Rock stabbings » arkansasonline.com/lrstabbings]

Welch, who was found just a few blocks away from the 12th Street police substation, had "numerous" wounds in his neck. Police later confirmed that the attack occurred around 2 a.m., according to the report.

Knife attacks in the same area earlier this month led investigators to connect the crimes.

Police responded at 3:30 a.m. April 11 to a call about a knife attack at West 19th and Marshall streets. Debra Walker, 43, said a man had approached her with a knife and stabbed her several times, according to a report.

Walker was rushed by ambulance to UAMS Medical Center. Medical personnel told police that she had 15 stab wounds, according to the report.

The next day, officers were called at 6:30 a.m. to 2710 Wright Ave., where 40-year-old Marlon Franklin, who is listed as homeless, was suffering from "serious injuries," a report stated.

Franklin was pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel, according to the report.

According to Humphrey, in each case pedestrians walking late at night or in the early morning were attacked at random.

"Without compromising the investigation, we know these incidents occurred in the Midtown area," Humphrey said in his statement. "They also occurred between the hours of 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. Those who were walking in the area were randomly attacked."

Investigators are searching for a man 6 feet or taller with a slender build. Detectives also believe the man to be Black because of testimony from the survivor.

Humphrey said the Police Department has put uniformed and plainclothes officers in the areas of the attacks and informed residents about the threat.

The department is offering a $20,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.

The four stabbings occurred within a 3-mile area, with the easternmost attack taking place a few blocks from Main Street and the westernmost near the 12th Street substation.

Midtown Billiards, a popular bar on the Main Street strip, is only 1 mile from the site of the first attack.

According to operator David Shipp, the bar's hours are back to normal with a 5 a.m. closing time but he said his patrons should feel safe because of increased patrols in the area.

"During most of our weekends we have off-duty officers, and there's always seems to be an officer posted in the parking lot across the street from us," Shipp said.

Several residents who live in the Central High School area, which borders where the other attacks occurred, said they will be securing their homes and avoiding venturing out late at night.

This screenshot of video provided by the Little Rock Police Department shows a man suspected in four separate stabbings.
This screenshot of video provided by the Little Rock Police Department shows a man suspected in four separate stabbings.
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