January 6, 2010~

Two men, David Middleton and  Ricky Middleton,  who are from the Mount Judea area face charges of conspiring to break out of jail and kidnap the Newton County sheriff’s son. The 51 year-old brother, David Middleton, is currently in the Benton County, Arkansas jail on federal drug charges has been arrested for allegedly conspiring to help his brother escape and attempting to kidnap Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape’s son.

Sheriff Slape says Ricky L. Middleton, 51, of Mt. Judea was arrested Friday on conspiracy to kidnap and conspiracy to escape charges.

Middleton’s brother, 53-year-old David Middleton of Mt. Judea, was arrested in November on methamphetamine charges. Because he is being held on a US Marshals hold county officials are not permitted to release his mug shot.

Slape says that jail employees have been monitoring calls from David Middleton to Ricky Middleton when they discovered the plot.

Sheriff Slape says inmates are informed of jail policy when they are booked in that their phone calls and visits are subject to be monitored. Slape did acknowledge that the escape plot had probably fallen by the wayside as authorities tighten security, but he said his “vested interest” was in his family’s safety.

Another brother of the Middleton’s, Josh, 20, has been missing since 2005. The last person seen with Josh Middleton was 56-year-old Charles Daniel House. House was found shot to death in his car on Mt. Hershey Road by a school bus driver in late January 2005.

Rickey Freeman of Mt. Judea was arrested on varied charges in Harrison that same day. Slape believes Freeman was the last person seen with House and Middleton. Freeman’s Newton County home was destroyed in a fire not long after his arrest.

Slape says that he has moved his family to a “safe house.”

Slape said that he is not going to be intimidated and that threats are not going to slow or halt the investigation into illegal crime in Newton County. “I’m not going to cow down to these people,” he said. “I’ve got a job to do.”

Middleton’s brother, Ricky, faces conspiracy charges. Investigators say one plot involved Ricky Middleton ambushing a prison transport vehicle to free David. Investigators recorded phone conversations between Ricky, David, and Tracy discussing the plans.

“Officers are used to being threatened, somehow, and I’ve had some threats, lots of threats made to me, but there’s a line that you cross, and when they threaten a family, that line has been crossed,” said Sheriff Keith Slape.

Three family members, known criminals he says, were trying to kidnap his only surviving child.

“I lost my daughter in 2008 in a car accident so, when I heard somebody planning harm or doing harm to my son, I had a parent’s reaction,” said Slape.

Slape says David Middleton was arrested for delivering meth, and the U.S. Marshals Service was keeping him as a federal inmate in the Benton County jail. Ever since, he says, Middleton has been plotting to get out with the help of his brother and niece.

“These are the three major players in it: David (Middleton), Rickie (Middleton) and Tracy (Waits),” he said.

The sheriff says the three had two plans. The first was to help David Middleton escape during his transport between jail and his court appearance. If that didn’t work, the plan was to kidnap the sheriff’s 17-year-old son and hold him as a ransom until David Middleton was let go.

“We’ve got to look at the house, find out where he goes, where his school bus goes, get him at whatever time and use these individuals to help you,” is a piece of audio that deputies heard when they uncovered the scheme during a telephone tap.

The missing piece now is Tracy Waits, Middleton’s niece. Waits is still on the loose, and the sheriff is begging for the public’s help in finding her.

 ~Tracy Waits was caught Wednesday, January 13, 2010, at a home in Lead Hill, Ark.~

A fugitive wanted in connection with a plot to kidnap the Newton County sheriff’s son has been arrested. Tracy Waits, 30, was caught by Boone County sheriff’s deputies on Wednesday at a home in Lead Hill.

Waits was named in a plot to either help her father, David Middleton, escape from jail or kidnap Sheriff Keith Slape’s son to use as leverage to have Middleton released. She is being held in Boone County in lieu of a $1 million bond.


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