Missing Montana Teacher Sherry Arnold: Suspects Have Lengthy Criminal Records

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The two men charged with aggravated kidnapping in the disappearance of missing Montana teacher Sherry Arnold have had numerous run-ins with the law.

Though the FBI will not say what led them to Lester Vann Waters Jr., 47, and Michael Keith Spell, 22, the two men were taken into custody last week and are being held at the Williams County Correctional Center in Williston, N.D while they await extradition to Montana. Both men had been living in an unincorporated area near Parachute, Colo.

Waters has an extensive criminal record in Florida with charges including a weapons offense, narcotic possession, theft, trespassing and leaving the scene of a crash injury. He has served time in Florida jails at least three times.

Records also show that Waters has used about a dozen aliases and has been charged with giving police a false name when arrested.

Spell was arrested and charged with drug possession, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and sexual contact without consent in Colorado in May 2007, but the charges were dropped for unknown reasons.

Investigators have remained tight-lipped about the details of the investigation, providing very little information about the connection between Waters and Spell or what led them to the conclusion that Arnold is dead.

FBI investigators have said they believe that Arnold is dead, but they have not yet been able to locate her body.

On Monday, investigators asked farmers and ranchers in remote areas of Montana and North Dakota to search their properties for disturbed soil or grass near vacant farms. They believe Arnold could be buried somewhere in the area.

"We don't want the public out there running around in the countryside," Williston Police Chief Jim Lokken said at a news conference on Monday. "The landowners know their land and their property. If they see anything that has been disturbed, we want them to check it out."

Investigators are saying that Arnold could be buried in a "shelter belt," rows of trees planted alongside farmland to protect the soil from wind.

"Property owners who discover something unusual are asked not to disturb the site and immediately contact the Williams County Law Enforcement Center," the FBI said in a statement.

Arnold, 43, a married mother of two and stepmother of three, disappeared on Jan. 7 around 6:30 a.m. while jogging near her home in Sidney, Mont. A single running shoe was the only trace left behind.

The case is now a federal case because investigators believe Arnold was kidnapped from her hometown of Sidney, Mont., and taken across state lines.

Sidney, a small town of roughly 5,000 people, has experienced an influx of out-of-town oil workers following the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota. Crime rates in the area have also swelled, with a rise in bar fights, domestic violence and drunk driving.