Nov. 28, 2008 -- Forensic evidence in the case of a man charged with murdering a Little Rock, Ark., anchorwoman also links him to an April rape in eastern Arkansas, police said.
Marianna, Ark., Det. Carl McCree said when a state crime lab processed a DNA sample related to the April 21 rape and home invasion in Marianna, it eliminated his main suspect. But the lab notified authorities in both cities that they were searching for the same man.
Curtis Lavelle Vance, 28, of Marianna, Ark., who was arraigned today in the homicide of KATV anchor Anne Pressly, 26, voluntarily submitted a DNA sample this week after Little Rock police questioned him.
At McCree's suggestion, Little Rock police had interviewed Vance on Monday because Marianna police believed he could be responsible for some area burglaries.
"I told them he would be a good suspect for the case," McCree said. "[Little Rock police] interviewed him on the assault."
A day later, the DNA results officially linked Vance to Pressly's murder and matched evidence gathered in the case of a 32-year-old woman raped in the early morning hours of April 21.
"We got a positive hit on the 26th on my case and their case," McCree said.
Today, a Pulaski County, Ark., judge ordered Vance to be held without bond during a brief hearing. Vance said nothing in court, nor did he enter a plea.
But prior to the hearing, an officer said the evidence against Vance in the slain journalist's case was firm.
"We had forensics from the house. We had matches on that," Little Rock Police Lt. Terry Hastings said on "Good Morning America" today. "We have a very solid case against Mr. Vance."
If convicted, Vance could face the death penalty or a life sentence. Vance has yet to be arraigned on potential rape and residential burglary -- charges in the town 90 miles outside of Little Rock -- or talk to detectives there, but McCree said Vance would face a judge this week and be charged.
McCree said in the Marianna sexual assault, the assailant raped the victim, took her cell phone and $3.
Law enforcement revealed it had forensic evidence connecting Vance to Pressly's death following his arrest Wednesday night, but refused to give specifics.
Deputy prosecutor John Hout said details are being guarded closely to protect the case.
"There are a lot of people that are intensely eager to find out what the facts are," Hout told the AP. "At this point and time, due to all the hard work of the police and crime lab, we probably don't need to say" what the evidence is.
Pressly's parents, who live in South Carolina but vowed to stay in Arkansas until their daughter's killer was found, never believed the woman's death was just about burglary.
"Anne had never had a reason to be afraid before. She lived in a very safe neighborhood. She was a rising star at KATV. She worked so hard to get to the level that she had just recently gotten to. And then, for it to all be taken away, to me, seems very coincidental," Pressly's mother Patti Cannady said on "Good Morning America" today.
Pressly's mother said she and her husband planned to attend Vance's hearing.
"We have a lot of friends that are going to go with us. We're going to stand together, linked arm-to-arm, to face this man," she said.
"We want him to know how strong we are in standing together to see him face trial, and ultimately conviction. This is a capital murder case. and we fully anticipate that this will be tried and he will be convicted as a capital murderer, and be sentenced appropriately," Pressly's father Guy Cannady said on "Good Morning America" today. "It's a relief to have this character off the street. Certainly, the public safety issue has been removed."
Vance has no previous record of crimes except for traffic violations in Little Rock and Marianna that resulted in a suspended driver's license, and McCree said the alleged killer had no record of any serious crimes that he knew of.
Some wonder how a man without a history of violent crime could have a connection to such a macabre case.
"I'm not sure we'll ever find an answer to that," Hastings said. "He is obviously a person ... that found that to be something that he wanted to do. But the reason behind that and his thinking, we may never know. He has talked with the detectives, but he's not been forthcoming with a whole lot of information."
So far, police have offered no motive for Vance's alleged crime and seem to have no indication of what it could be.
Patti Cannady found her daughter in her Little Rock apartment after the television journalist missed a wake up call. She went to check on her daughter and found the severely injured Pressly. The Little Rock ABC affiliate, KATV, morning anchorwoman died of her injuries five days after the attack without regaining consciousness.
"We don't think there's any connection there. We think it's an opportunity that he saw. May have seen Anne at a gas station or some place else and simply followed her and took advantage of the situation there. But we can't find any connection between these two at all," Hastings said.
Patti Cannady speculated Vance may have become fixated on her daughter after watching her on television, and said she hoped the arraignment would begin to resolve just what happened to her daughter.
"I feel very strongly that we have a lot of unanswered questions, and we look forward to hearing the truth," she said. "He's taken the light of the world for all of her friends and her family that loved her deeply. And as it is, our life has almost ended."
Tracking Down Vance
Almost immediately after announcing him as a suspect, releasing his photo and asking for the community's help on-air, police had Vance in custody.
"In about 50 minutes, we knew where he was at and had him in custody," Hastings said.
"He was found in Little Rock at a relative's house," McCree said.