Local cold case file:
Monday, June 11, 2007 9:08 AM CDT
What happened to Doug Kirk?
By Warren Watkins
The Daily Citizen
Someone in White County knows what happened to Doug Kirk.
Authorities are confident they will eventually find a break in the case and make an arrest. Until then, here is what they know:
Douglas Eugene Kirk, 35, visited his grandmother in McRae on Thursday, Aug. 3, 1995. The next day, he went to a concert in Little Rock and then checked into a motel. On Aug. 5 he had an appointment to meet his girlfriend at a reservoir near McRae but she told police he never showed up.
On Aug. 18, his parents, Rip and Novela Kirk, reported their son missing to the White County Sheriff's Department.
Doug's son, Christopher, been with his mother since Doug's disappearance and has been adopted by his stepfather. He lives in McRae and is now 21.
A borrowed 1994 Nissan pickup truck Doug was last seen driving turned up in California two weeks after Doug's disappearance.
“We heard nothing but rumors that it was hauled out there in the back of an 18-wheeler,” Rip said. “We're sure that Doug didn't drive it.”
A witness reported seeing the truck driving down Shiloh Hill two weeks after Doug's disappearance, Rip said.
In 2001, Lieutenant Michael Ray, at the time head of the Criminal Investigations Division of the WCSD, told a Daily Citizen reporter that mistakes were made in the early days of the investigation.
“We dropped the ball on this,” Ray said.
“There were things we could, and should, have done better.”
Rick Kirk is the oldest of the three Kirk boys. Doug was in the middle and Keith the youngest.
“This is very frustrating,” Rick said of his brother's case, “Some of the people the sheriff's department needs to talk to seem to have more rights than the victim in a case like this. They've lawyered up and the authorities can't even talk to them about it.”
According to Rick, the key person detectives would like to talk to is Vickie Favor Crisco, an acquaintance of Doug's. But she's not talking now.
“She told me Doug ran out of gas up around the Searcy area and she left Jimmy Matthew's house in order to get the gas,” Rick said. “She said she done that, then Doug notified her shortly after that he had lost the keys to the pickup truck. She went to Jimmy's house, then to Jimmy's brother's house in Shiloh to get the keys.”
When she was at the house, a witness said she was very nervous.
“So far in the investigation, she was the last one to see Doug alive that we know of,” Rick said. “Doug and Jimmy were best friends and Doug was doing some remodeling on Jimmy's house.”
Another family member confronted Crisco shortly after Doug's disappearance, but she only talked in circles about what had happened. The night that Crisco said Doug ran out of gas and lost his keys, Crisco was driving a maroon van.
Former sheriff Jess Odom said when a witness or a suspect hires a lawyer, the investigation slows down.
“You can interview those people but they have the right to have an attorney present,” Odom said. “Most of the time a lawyer won't let them say anything incriminating. It's hard to interview with an attorney present.”
Meanwhile, the unresolved stress from his brother's disappearance has made life difficult for Rick.
“It's something that weighs on our mind all the time,” Rick said. “It never goes away.”
The mother said her son was not known to be mean.
“Doug was a person that everybody liked. His personality was good,” Novela said.
She doesn't believe Doug just walked away from his life and family and is alive somewhere else.
“No, I don't believe he left, just up and left,” Novela said. “He was living at home with us at the time and there was no problem between us.”
Doug was working at odd jobs, mainly for Jimmy Matthews doing carpentry work, she said.
Rip believes his son is dead.
“Yes, there's no doubt,” Rip said. “We believe he would've contacted us some way if he wasn't.”
Doug was part of the drug culture in McRae, Rip said, a fact some believe was a vital part of the motive for Doug's disappearance.
“He was involved in drugs, but I guess we were just kind of dumb, because we really didn't know it,” Rip said. “In other words, he wasn't drugged up around home.”
Rip has spent time, as many of Doug's family and friends, wondering where Doug's body could be.
“Back then, we got word he would be within the McRae area, within a ten mile area of our house,” Rip said. “Word got out that he was buried over there in the parking lot in Beebe, and there's a possibility he could. They were constructing that store and the parking lot at the time [of Doug's disappearance.] They dug over there twice when somebody tried to tell them where he was located but they never did find anything. They even had cadaver dogs.”
Novela thinks the two efforts to dig up the body may have been inadequate. The grocery store has since changed owners and names.
“We didn't go over there, they kept us away from there,” Novela said. “But we were told they didn't dig where the dogs actually hit.”
While Doug's parents don't have suspects in mind, they do know people who they think have information they haven't told.
“We have suspects in mind as to who knows who did it,” Novela said. “I feel like there's some that knows who did it. There's been all kinds of rumors and everything. We don't know if there was possibly some money involved, and if they stole the money.”
A simple fight could have ended Doug's life, Rip said, because Doug had been in a car accident and had his face rebuilt. Doctors said a hard blow to the face could kill him, so he would always protect his face.
“I feel like this was over either money or drugs,” Novela said. “It's a matter of who was involved that's held it back, as to what would come out if they would ever solve it. We found out things about people we never knew. It will blow your mind what's out there.”
Lt. Fred Cheek, head of Crime Scene/Cold Case unit of the White County Sheriff's Department, said an effort was made to find Crisco's van, suspected of being involved in Doug's disappearance, but it was found to have been crushed and recycled.
“The bullet that killed my son was in that van,” Novela said.
If someone would come forward the family's suffering would be eased. In a phone call regarding this article, Keith broke down in tears discussing the tragedy.
“I would just like to have closure as to where Doug's body is,” Novela said. “Not as much who did it but where. We would want to know who done it but it may not be best to know. Somebody out there can help us, if they will.”
Asked who she thinks knows what happened to Doug, Novela is plain spoken: Vicki Favor Crisco.
The Doug Kirk case has made history for its impact on the way cases involving missing adults are handled in Arkansas. Rick and his wife, Shawna, found that Arkansas had no database for missing adults.
Working through then-senator Mike Beebe and then-governor Mike Huckabee, the Kirks helped form legislation to address the problem. Aug. 5, 2000, the fifth anniversary of Doug's disappearance, was officially declared Arkansas Missing Adults Awareness Day and on Jan. 1, 2001, Act 80 took effect, requiring information on missing adults to be entered into the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC) as soon as they are reported missing.
Shawna established the National Center for Endangered and Missing Adults, but the organization is now inactive.
Tomorrow, June 11, would have been Doug's 47th birthday.
Solve the mystery
Those with information about this case are asked to call Lt. Cheek at (501) 279-6279.http://www.thedailycitizen.com/articles/20...news/news03.txt