August 14, 2013 Edition

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Findings released; Sidney
Randall case closed

Gretchen Hunt

A sense of finality has finally reached the Lawrence County community after the Arkansas State Police released its findings regarding the death of 14-year-old Sidney Randall of Walnut Ridge.

Evidence from the autopsy report and Arkansas State Police investigation indicates that Sidney was killed by blunt force trauma to the head, and according to ASP Sgt. Scott Pillow there is no evidence to suggest that anyone other than the prime suspect in the case, her stepfather, John Cornell, was involved in what was ruled a homicide.

Sidney was reported missing by her mother, Denise Cornell, in the early morning hours of Sunday, March 10. She said she was last seen at her home the night before. The following Monday, John, who was suspected in Sidney's disappearance, was found dead on a field road. His death was determined to be from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Friends, family, neighbors and members of the community suddenly found themselves connected in an effort to find the missing teen. As time passed, people from surrounding communities and even other states, lent their efforts to the cause, as well.

Organized search efforts yielded no results, and for more than two months Sidney's family and the community waited for answers. Then, on May 18 the answer that everyone feared and no one wanted to hear was reported. A fisherman had found Sidney's body in the Black River, near Old Davidsonville State Park.

The community once again came together - this time to honor Sidney's memory. A crowd of some 450 people, including family members, classmates and people who had helped search for Sidney, attended her funeral on May 25 at the Sharum Gymnasium on the Walnut Ridge School campus.

According to the ASP case summary, the case is closed and all investigative actions have been terminated.

WRPD Chief Richey Thatcher thanked those who helped throughout the course of the search for Sidney and the investigation into her death.

"We appreciate all the volunteers who helped from the community, state and surrounding states," he said. "It is unfortunate that it ended the way it did."

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