John Leonard Mitchell

Primary murder suspect John Leonard Mitchell age 58, of Hatfield, Arkansas.

Less than one month after Brian Travis, the man charged with four counts of Capital Murder in the April 2017 quadruple homicide in Hatfield, returned to Polk County to finalize the dates of his trial. Hatfield once again finds itself in the middle of another murder investigation.

October 10 started out as a sleepy Wednesday morning in a normally quiet little town turned into something an altogether more sinister with the report of a dead body. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to the report at approximately 11:40 a.m. 

A short time after arriving on the scene deputies with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office located the body of a white male floating in the river. According to officers, the body was spotted among a rocky section on the side the Mountain Fork River near Polk Road 38, just West of Hatfield.

The victim was identified as Don Earl Smith, age 60, of Hatfield, Arkansas. Officers began the investigation, not leaving out the possibility of foul play.

During the investigation conducted by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Arkansas State Police, evidence was developed that quickly led officers to the arrest of John Leonard Mitchell, age 58, of Hatfield, Arkansas.

Mitchell, a long time resident of Hatfield was also neighbors with the deceased Smith.

Due to the investigation currently being open Sheriff, Scott Sawyer could give no further information at the time, but did note he expects, “the investigation to be wrapped up in the next couple of days.”

Mitchell is currently in custody at the Polk County Detention Center and was charged with Murder First Degree and Possession of a Firearm by Certain Person.

Mitchell made his first appearance in front of Polk County District Court Judge Danny Thrailkill on Friday, October 12, where the bond was set at one million dollars. Mitchell’s arraignment is set for this Wednesday, October 17 in front of Circuit Court Judge Jerry Ryan.

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