Beverly Carter disappeared on Thursday, September 25, 2014, after showing a house in Scott, Arkansas, a community just east of Little Rock. The 50-year-old real estate agent had called her husband at around 5:30 p.m. to let him know she was showing one final house before returning home for dinner, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Carter never made it home, however, and a multi-day search for the missing realtor began, which tragically culminated in the discovery of her body on September 30. Arron Lewis, 33 years old at the time, was arrested and charged with capital murder and kidnapping, according to the outlet.
Although authorities initially said Lewis was the only suspect, the following month Lewis’ wife, Crystal Lowery, was arrested and also charged with capital murder and kidnapping. Lewis was sentenced to two life terms in prison while Lowery, in exchange for pleading guilty and testifying against her husband, received a sentence of 30 years, Arkansas Online reported.
The case is being explored on NBC’s Dateline tonight.
During Lewis’ Trial, the Former Couple Presented Differing Stories About Carter’s Death
According to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office arrest and disposition reports for Lowery and Lewis, Lewis confessed to kidnapping Carter but “refused to provide us with her location.” Police managed to trace Lewis and Carter’s phone records to an area where a search “revealed the deceased victim in a shallow grave bound by duct tape.”
During Lewis’ trial, Lowery testified against him and said she agreed to help Lewis with his ransom plot because she wanted him to raise enough money so he could move out of their home, the Texarkana Gazette reported. Lowery, who’d already pleaded guilty, said, “I don’t know why I didn’t call the police.” Lowery said their plan was to kidnap Carter and keep her in an abandoned building while they made ransom demands.
Lowery testified that Lewis drove around with Carter in the trunk of the car and eventually took her to their home. However, Lowery said she was concerned that Carter would be able to identify her because of prescription medication at the home and they eventually decided that Carter had to be killed. According to the outlet, “Lowery said Lewis left with Carter but returned without the woman, and told Lowery he had choked her until she died.”
Lewis presented a different story to the jury, with his defense attorney arguing that Carter and Lewis were having an affair, according to Arkansas Online. He said Carter died accidentally while she and Lowery were engaged in a sexual act, something the prosecution and Carter’s family vehemently denied. During the sentencing, Carter’s son spoke about how his mother loved her husband of 35 years. “We had so many good years left with her,” he said. “This world is a darker place without her.”
Lewis Said Carter Was Targeted Because She Was a Woman Working Alone & Carter’s Son Sued Her Employer
After his arrest, Lewis told reporters that he didn’t kill Carter but he did target her for kidnapping “because she was just a woman that worked alone — a rich broker,” Texarkana Gazette reported at the time.
On September 29, 2017, Carter’s family sued her employer, real estate firm Crye-Leike Real Estate, according to Arkansas Online. The lawsuit stated that her employer knew Carter faced “life-threatening” situations but did nothing to help prevent them or prepare Carter for them. The suit alleged that Crye-Leike did not run background checks on prospective clients and did not require realtors to run them.
It also stated that the firm did not encourage or recommend that realtors work in groups when showing homes in rural areas or to strangers, nor did it recommend that realtors meet new clients in public for preliminary meetings. Finally, the suit also stated that employees like Carter weren’t provided with helpful technology like GPS tracking or emergency buttons that would keep them safer on the job.
The lawsuit was eventually dismissed because it missed the statute of limitations, according to AP News. The lawsuit was filed on September 29, 2017, but the deadline expired three days before, on September 26, 2017, exactly three years after Carter’s death.