STUTTGART -- The Arkansas County sheriff's office confirmed Thursday evening that the body discovered inside a burned vehicle on Hartz Seed Road outside of Stuttgart on May 4 was Johnny Howard, a junior football player at Stuttgart High School.
Howard was reported missing through social media by loved ones on May 4. Howard, who was described as an 18-year-old black man, 6 feet, 1 inch and 180 pounds, was last seen around 9 p.m. the day before in Stuttgart. Loved ones said he may have walked off or left in a white truck or black car.
At approximately 5 p.m. May 4, according to officials, sheriff's deputies discovered the body inside the burned vehicle and detectives were called to the scene for further investigation.
The body was sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for identification. The vehicle has been identified as a Ford F250 that was reported stolen on May 2.
A teacher expressed her heartbreak after hearing the news of her student's death on her Facebook page, saying in the past two years four of her students have been murdered.
"He had great manners. He was a friend to everyone -- you didn't have to be from here or even an athlete," teacher Hollee Davis said. "Johnny was a kid. He did dumb stuff just like every kid -- but that didn't make him a bad kid just like it doesn't make your kid a bad kid ... Johnny was not evil. He was not bad. Not on any day ever could you make me believe he somehow deserved this. He was not that guy."
Davis went on to say her heart breaks for the family and Stuttgart as a whole is coming very close to being known for something besides "ducks and rice" as the suspects continue to run the town.
"Everyone knows the two sides that aren't just mischievous kids -- they are murderous criminals," she said on her Facebook post. "If you don't know, ask your kids. Ask someone else's kids. Let's stop acting like this is a big mystery."
Community organizers have offered reward money for any information leading to the arrests as no suspects have been identified.
So far the reward money is up to $3,800 and is led by a committee member of the Stuttgart Search & Rescue team who also reported Howard missing at the time of his disappearance.
"They can call (870) 830-4328," said Frank Bledsaw of Stuttgart Search & Rescue, adding he is working with law enforcement officials. "They will remain anonymous."
Howard was a neighbor of Bledsaw, who said even a small tip is better than no tip at all.
The sheriff's office also asks anyone with information to contact them at (870) 659-2060.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the relationship between Howard and Bledsaw's son. They did not play on the same football team.