Man arrested in 2017 murder case, originally thought to be suicide

Man arrested in 2017 murder case, originally thought to be suicide
Benny Clay Melton, 47, no address available was arrested Friday on suspicion of second-degree murder in the 2017 death of Rhonda Lindley. (Source: Cross County Sheriff's Office)

CROSS COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - A man now faces a second-degree murder charge after sheriff’s investigators say discrepancies found in the case led to the man’s arrest.

Benny Clay Melton, 47, no address available, was arrested Friday in connection with the 2017 death of Rhonda Lindley.

According to a post on the Cross County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, Cross County deputies, Wynne police, and Arkansas State Police investigators made an arrest after a search warrant was done on Highway 1 South Sept. 15.

Cross County authorities released details early Saturday about the 2017 death of Rhonda Lindley. Benny Clay Melton was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder in the case, officials said.
Cross County authorities released details early Saturday about the 2017 death of Rhonda Lindley. Benny Clay Melton was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder in the case, officials said. (Source: Cross County Sheriff's Office Facebook)

“During that investigation, it was noted that there was a death, Rhonda Lindley, at the same address in 2017. That death was ruled a suicide. My investigators, Mandi Cordell, Captain Kendole Boykin, Captain Luke Cantrell of WPD, and ASP CID dug into the evidence from the 2017 death and found discrepancies,” the post noted. “Benny Clay Melton was interviewed and confessed to having caused Lindley’s death.”

Officials did not release specifics on what those discrepancies were.

Family members said they had not heard from Melton’s father.

After searching the home, police found Melton’s father’s remains in the pump house behind the home.

Melton was arrested for abuse of a corpse and theft of property for stealing and using his deceased father’s credit cards.

They interviewed Melton again, and he confessed to murdering Rhonda Lindley.

Sheriff David West says Lindley’s mother was glad to hear the news. She knew her daughter didn’t commit suicide and the sheriff’s department gave her the answers she has needed for years.

“I spoke to the mother and the father in this office, and they were very relieved to know that their child had not committed suicide," said West. They were still upset that she was not here anymore, but that’s what makes it worth coming to work.”

West says that they are continuing to look into cold cases and unsolved murders.

For example, a man went missing in 2018 in Parkin, and the department was searching for him on Tuesday.

They are working every day to give families closure.

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