(5/23) 14 year old Sidney Nicole Randal went missing March 10 of this year in Walnut Ridge, AR, along with her stepfather John Cornell. A search began afterward & John Cornell was found dead March 11 in his pickup truck. For over two months now, authorities along with search & rescue teams have combed Lawrence County searching for the teenage girl. As clues became sparse & the investigation went cold, families, friends & authorities all prayed that something would turn up to help find Sidney Randal. On Sat. May 18, something did turn up…but not what all had hoped for. Here is a press release from Walnut Ridge Chief of Police, Richy Thatcher:
"First of all I would like to say our prayers go out to the Cornell and Randal families.
Sidney Nicole Randal went missing on March 10, 2013 along with her stepfather John Cornell.
Mr. Cornell’s body was found on Monday March 11, 2013 around 2:20pm.
On Saturday May 18, 2013, around 5:40pm, approximately 2 months and 8 days after her disappearance, A 911 call was received by Randolph County Sheriff’s Dept from Bryan Meeks advised he was floating down Black River by Old Davidsonville and there was a body hanging in a tree top just down from the boat ramp. Rans County Sheriff and Lawrence County Sheriff went on scene to find what appeared to be the body of a young female.
The body was sent Sunday morning to the AR State Crime Lab.
Around 10 am this date, I was notified by AR State Police Inv. Scott Pillow that it has been identified as the body of Sidney Nicole Randal.
I would like to thank, first of all, my dept, the Walnut Ridge Fire Dept., the AR State Police, the Lawrence County Sheriff (and his deputies) and Chief Glen Smith of the Hoxie Police Dept. Second of all, of the citizen of Walnut Ridge and Lawrence County who have donated their time, gave money or/and brought food for the searchers and the Cornell family.
I would also like to thank all the surrounding counties and states that have helped in the search.
A special thanks to Texas EguuSearch for the time they spent in helping search."
(5/22) The death of fourteen-year-old Sidney Randal has left many of her classmates saddened by her passing.
"Emotions range from anger to sadness to questions about why this kind of thing can happen," said Walnut Ridge Middle School Counselor Randy Johnson.
After Monday's confirmation of Sidney's death, Johnson said they've been handling the situation the best way they can.
"Our job is to try and make the day as normal as possible, keep them in a routine and then just be there if they have a question," said Johnson.
Preparations were made ahead of time as they anticipated a difficult day for many of the students.
"Yesterday we brought in some extra counselors," said Johnson. "The elementary counselor came over, the high school counselor and then a small group of counselors come in from one of the local agencies."
However, the help and support didn't stop there.
"Our teachers stepped up and did a wonderful job yesterday just being available and helping to meet some of those needs to the students," said Johnson.
When parents have a child lose a friend, it's important to understand that all children grieve in different ways and to be there when they're ready to talk.
"Ask things like what are you feeling? What questions do you have right now? Are you ready to talk," said Johnson. "Kind of give them that chance to come to you but be there, be close enough without invading their space."
Johnson said a good way to express feelings isn't always done verbally.
"I asked students to just write," said Johnson. "If you're not ready to talk, write down what your questions are, what you're thinking and what you would liked to say to Sidney."
As students continue to grieve in the next coming days, Johnson said he's certain they will help each other in this difficult time.
"I think our students have done a good job at pulling together and who to give that hug to and who to support," said Johnson.
(5/20) It started off as a normal Saturday afternoon for Herschel Meeks and his family as they spent the day on Black River.
"We took the family and went to the river found a beach, most of them covered up so we found one beach that had a little bit of sand on it and we had a little bit of fun," said Meeks.
As the weather forced them to call it a day, Meeks caught a glimpse of something that looked out of the ordinary on their ride back to shore.
"Clouds moved in, we started back down the river and I noticed something on the bank that didn't look right," said Meeks.
At first glance he says he was certain he knew what it was but did not want his family around when he went back to check.
"I waited till they were downstream until I turned around and went back to check it out," said Meeks.
When he made his way over, he was certain his first initial thought was correct.
"Sure enough it was what I thought it was so I called the law," said Meeks.
The body has yet to be identified but Meeks said as questions are answered in the next coming days, he's hoping he can bring closure to a family who might be missing a loved one.
"I know it would help me a lot if I lost a kid," said Meeks. (Day 70)
(4/29) The Walnut Ridge Police Department are still following any leads or tips that are called in on the case of Sidney Randal. Deputy Buddy Williams informed Fox Radio that officers are out every day but nothing has been found, & there are no new details.
The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and Walnut Ridge Police Department are still hoping that some sort of lead will develop with the public’s help, but as of today they are still empty handed.
Buddy Williams- “We are never going to give up hope, someone, somewhere knows something, it’s just a matter of getting the person or persons to come forward.” If you have any information on this case, please contact the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department at 870-886-2525. (Day 49)
(4/8) Divers Endure A Late Night Along With Searchers In The Sidney Randal Search
Deputy Williams informed us that the first volunteer search had 245 volunteers attend with an additional 25 law enforcement officials combing 25 square miles of farmland with no positive results. There were also 13 boats with sonar in local bodies of water. Deputy Williams said that there were volunteers from as far north as Hobart, IN down all the way to Southern parts of LA.
Williams said they are in “exactly the same place we were on March 11.”
Deputy Williams is gathering another search party to track this Friday & Saturday. Volunteers are asked to meet at the Walnut Ridge Police Department on both days at 8AM. Two Rivers K-9 SAR is coming in from Tennessee to help in the search. You can gather more information about this event on The Walnut Ridge Police Department Facebook page or call Deputy Buddy Williams at 870-844-2901.