Deer Spotlighting Leads To Charges of Murder

Wildlife officer Ross Spurlock unpeeled only the first layer of an onion when he arrested a Jacksonville man for killing a deer out of season and at night.

Other layers removed by Cpl. Spurlock of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and by Pulaski County sheriff’s deputies ended with four people arrested for murder.

Arkansas Cpl. Ross Spurlock

It all took place within a few days in late October, and the case covered events in northern Pulaski County and northwestern Lonoke County.

Spurlock said he received a call from Pulaski County Deputy Brooks Robertson about two men caught using a spotlight. They threw out a .308 caliber rifle when he stopped them, Robertson said, and he arrested one of them for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Spurlock’s investigation revealed a 12-point buck killed illegally with a muzzle-loader several weeks earlier and also a red-tailed hawk killed in violation of state and federal protection. He issued two citations for night hunting, two citations for taking deer out of season, one citation for possession of a red-tailed hawk, one citation for fleeing, one citation for no hunting license and one citation for aiding and abetting a violation.

Spurlock, Robertson and other Pulaski County Deputies probed deeper. A woman found with one of the men involved in the illegal deer kill was a “person of interest” in an investigation into a missing Cabot man, the Pulaski deputies said.

A Cabot Police Department investigator joined in the work, and after more apprehensions, they were led to a residence near Cabot where Pulaski County Deputies found a body. The man had been missing for five weeks.

Seven people wound up under arrest, including the two that Spurlock cited for hunting violations. Four were charged with murder and with abuse of a corpse.

In a letter of commendation for Spurlock, fellow officer Sgt. Matt Flowers wrote, “Due to Cpl. Spurlock’s hard work, dedication and professionalism, he was able to make extraordinary cases in regards to violations of AGFC regulations with limited information, and his investigation skills and experience were key in assisting the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office make four capital murder arrests.”

Spurlock joined the Game and Fish Commission is 1989 as a wildlife officer.

— Arkansas Game and Fish Commission