Authorities in Newton County Arkansas are being assisted by several different agencies in excavating the property of David and Ricky Middleton as they search for clues in the disappearance of 20 year old Josh Middleton who went missing five years ago.

A search warrant was executed on the Middleton property near Mt. Judea on Monday. Sheriff Keith Slape says authorities are also looking for stolen property that they believe is hidden on the property. Authorities plan to move to a second property owned by the brothers on March 10, 2010.

Officers from Newton and Marion counties, Arkansas State Police, DEA, National Guard, 14th Judicial Drug Task Force and Arkansas Game and Fish are assisting in the search.

Joshua was last seen at approximately 9:00 a.m. on January 21, 2005, riding with a male individual in a red Ford truck on Dry Creek Road just south of Mount Judea, Arkansas. He was carrying a brown fold-up wallet at the time of his disappearance. Joshua has never been heard from again. Also on Jan. 21, 2005, the bullet-riddled body of Charles Daniel House, 56, who was a friend of Josh’s was found slumped over in his car on a county road off Arkansas 123.

Ricky Freeman, 51, was arrested on a litany of charges in Harrison the same day that House was found murdered. Rickey Freeman’s house was destroyed in a fire not long after House’s murder and his arrest. Ricky A. Freeman, 38, was questioned after Middleton disappeared. Eleven months later, Freeman shot and killed Shannon Middleton, Josh’s 27-year-old cousin who blamed Freeman for his cousins disappearance.

Freeman is serving a 24-year prison sentence for manslaughter and other charges related to the killing.

Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape said there are other persons of interest. Police also believe that Middleton may have been with House when he died.

Over the years authorities have chased down several reported sightings of Josh Middleton. Some of those reported sightings have taken them to different states, but they have all ended with the same result, Josh Middleton is still missing.

Investigators have recovered quite bit of property in their search this week, but they have not determined if all of it has been reported stolen. Slape says the have found a stolen truck, and log skidder on the property. They have also found a license plate from a vehicle that was reported stolen. Authorities are planning to dig up a vehicle they have discovered buried on the property.

Cops have also seized a trailer filled with tools and other property they have recovered from the search.

David Middleton, 53, of Mt. Judea, was arrested in November on federal methamphetamine charges. Slape says that jail employees had been monitoring calls from David Middleton to Ricky Middleton when they discovered a plot to kidnap Sheriff Slape’s young son and break David Middleton out of jail. David Middleton pleaded guilty to the federal meth charges last month.

Ricky Middleton was arrested in January and charged with conspiracy to kidnap and conspiracy to escape.

 If you believe you have any information regarding this case that will be helpful in this investigation please contact:
Newton County Sheriff’s Office at  (870) 446-5124        

Name: Joshua Leon Middleton

Classification: Endangered Missing Adult
Alias / Nickname: Josh
Date of Birth: 1984-03-16
Date Missing: 2005-01-21
From City/State: Mount Judea, AR
Missing From (Country): USA
Age at Time of Disappearance: 20
Gender: Male
Race: White
Height: 69 inches
Weight: 165 pounds
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Green
Complexion: Medium
Clothing: White hooded sweatshirt with “Mt. Judea Eagles” written in blue on upper front of sweatshirt, blue jeans, camouflage boots, brown fold-up wallet.

Circumstances of Disappearance: Unknown. Joshua was last seen at approximately 9:00am on Dry Creek Rd. just south of Mount Judea, AR. He was last seen with a male individual riding in a red Ford truck. Joshua may be in the Missouri or Texas area.

Investigative Agency: Newton County Sheriff’s Office
Phone:               (870) 446-5124         (870) 446-5124
Investigative Case #: 05-012
NCIC #: M-584620475

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