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Posted 3/28/12 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The discovery of Sherry Arnold’s body last Wednesday near Williston will finally bring a small degree of closure and comfort to her family and friends.
Arnold, a 43-year-old mother of two and longtime school teacher in Sidney, was abducted while out for an early morning run on Jan. 7.
Initially, the hopes and prayers of everyone were that Arnold had only been only abducted and that she would soon be found. Unfortunately, that would not be the news. And the announcement that Arnold had been murdered shook the Sidney community to its core.
Since that time, her family, the community of Sidney, as well as residents of eastern Montana and northwestern North Dakota have wondered if her body would ever be found.
No one denies the fact that she had been abducted and murdered. Nor does there appear to be any doubt as to who committed this horrific crime as Lester Van Waters Jr. and Michael Keith Spell were shortly thereafter arrested and held on aggravated kidnapping charges. According to the FBI, Spell confessed that he and Waters abducted Arnold and that Waters chocked her to death.
While both men now face a possible death sentence on state of Montana charges, they could now also face federal charges because they transported Arnold’s body across state lines.
Suffice to say, because of the horrific nature of the crime that these two men committed against Arnold, one longs for some good old-fashioned, speedy western-day justice. The type of justice which saw the sentence carried out immediately after the trial. But that form of justice doesn’t happen in today’s judicial system. The trial is going to drag on for months, if not years. And even if Waters and Spell are sentenced to the death penalty, through long appeals processes, they will no doubt end up spending the rest of their lives behind bars.
There is nothing that anyone can do to bring Sherry Arnold back to her husband, her children, her friends or to her co-workers and students. Her life was snatched away far too quickly by two men who were on a crack-induced drug frenzy.
But there will be a small degree of closure this Friday when Arnold’s body is finally laid to rest surrounded by her family and friends.
The final closure will fall into the hands of the judicial system. Granted, the justice system cannot bring a beloved wife, mother, friend or co-worker back. But it can, and must, by finding these two individuals guilty and sentencing them to death, provide the final closure that Sherry’s family and friends need.