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Mont. kidnapping suspect given OK to leave Colo.
Montana kidnapping suspect had court permission to leave Colorado for Texas
By The Associated Press

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) ' One of the suspects in the alleged kidnapping of a Montana teacher now presumed dead received a judge's permission to leave Colorado, where he is facing drug charges, just two days before the woman disappeared.

Michael Keith Spell, 22, of Parachute, got approval from a Garfield County judge on Jan. 5 to go to Texas, saying his brother had been in a car accident there, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported (

Sherry Arnold, 43, disappeared two days later in Sidney, Mont.

Spell was arrested Jan. 13 in Rapid City, S.D., and is being held in Williston, N.D., with Lester Vann Waters, 47. The two face aggravated kidnapping charges in Montana stemming from the disappearance of Arnold, who left her house for a morning run and never returned

Spell had been scheduled to be arraigned in Garfield County next week on charges that he tried to persuade a middle school student in 2009 to text fellow students and ask them if they wanted to buy marijuana.

He was free on $500 bond in that case. Prosecutors in Garfield County didn't object to his request to leave the state.

Parachute Police Chief Cary Parmenter said Waters and Spell live near Parachute in the unincorporated residential area of Battlement Mesa.

Spell was previously arrested in 2007 in Garfield County and faced felony charges of drug distribution and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and a misdemeanor charge of no-consent sexual contact.

But Spell was under 18 at the time, and the charges were dismissed and the case closed.

A new case was reopened in juvenile court on one charge of drug possession with intent to distribute, said Jim Bradford, clerk of court in Garfield County. That charge also was later dismissed.

Spell was arrested again in 2009 after authorities said he asked a middle-school student in Battlement Mesa to text other students and ask them if they wanted to buy pot. An arrest affidavit said the student, then 14, said Spell had provided him with marijuana.

Spell faces charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, attempted distribution of marijuana, and solicitation to commit distribution of marijuana.

Spell's public defender twice successfully requested psychological evaluations for him in that case. The results are under court seal.

Spell's application for a public defender in the missing teacher case suggests he is married with a 1-year-old son.

Waters had several stints in jail in Indian River County and was incarcerated three times by the Florida Department of Corrections: from September 2002 to December 2003; August 2007 to March 2008; and March 2009 to August 2010.

In an application for a public defender filed in Williams County, N.D., Waters listed his home address as Parachute, Colo., where court records also show he had a driver's license. He listed two children, ages 5 and 15, and said he was not married.


Information from: The Daily Sentinel,

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