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Release of information hindered case

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

I read with interest the SV Weekend front-page article “First-degree murder suspect back in Arkansas” regarding murder suspect Steven Watts.

The article stated this case has been “sealed,” meaning it is not supposed to be public information.

However, the article also states, “Sheriff John Varga issued a news release to Arkansas media, which went against the [state’s attorney’s] plan to keep the case under wraps.”

In other words, Sheriff Varga might as well have called the other murder suspects and told them to run and hide! Why would a law enforcement administrator do such a thing?

Any first-year officer with investigative training knows that when you have multiple suspects, you never release information about the case.

“Sealing” a case is a decision that is reached between the investigating agency and the state’s attorney, with the authorization coming from a judge.

Sheriff Varga went against the recommendation of the state’s attorney AND an order issued by a judge.

Now, according to the SVM story, the state’s attorney said she is “trying to protect the investigation.”

This is just one example of a series of critical mistakes the Lee County sheriff has made in major investigations.

 

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