CHILDREN REPORTED SAFE
FALLSVILLE — Newton County Sheriff Glenn Wheeler said two men were arrested Sunday in connection with a suspected arson and murder incident Saturday.
According to Wheeler, Deer and Ozone fire departments were called to the scene of a house fire west of Fallsville around 3:35 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9.
While battling the blaze, firefighters found the body of a male subject inside the residence. It is believed to be that of the homeowner. Evidence at the scene and subsequent information received confirmed investigators’ suspicions that a homicide and arson had occurred, Wheeler said.
Wheeler said investigators began actively looking for two male suspects, Charles Vernon Stepp, 69 and Steven Stepp, 34, both of the Fallsville area, for questioning.
Information led investigators to a house in Clarksville where the suspects were believed to be hiding. Surveillance was put in place at the residence and around 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10, the suspects attempted to sneak out the back. They were apprehended without incident.
Wheeler said Steven Stepp faces charges of first-degree murder, arson and aggravated robbery, but other charges may be pending. Charles Vernon Stepp will be interviewed to determine what, if any, charges could be filed against him.
The name of the victim has not been released as a positive identification has not yet been made. The investigation continues, Wheeler said
The sheriff said authorities were also concerned for the welfare of two children who may be in the company of Josh and Veronica Kee and may have been at the residence at the time of the homicide. Those children have been located and are safe.
Both suspects are now in the Newton County Jail. Steven Stepp is charged with 1st Degree Murder, Arson and Aggravated Robbery. More charges may be pending.
Charles Vernon Stepp is currently charged with Hindering Apprehension.
The investigation continues.
Newton County Sheriff’s Office is being assisted in the investigation by the Arkansas State Police, the 14th Judicial District Drug Task Force, The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Clarksville Police Department, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.