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Search of Middleton property (Harrison Daily Times)

Authorities in Newton County Arkansas are being assisted by several different agencies in excavating the property of David and Ricky Middleton as they search for clues in the disappearance of 20 year-old Josh Middleton who went missing five years ago.

A search warrant was executed on the Middleton property near Mt. Judea on Monday. Sheriff Keith Slape says authorities are also looking for stolen property that they believe is hidden on the property. Authorities plan to move to a second property owned by the brothers today (03-10-10).

Officers from Newton and Marion counties, Arkansas State Police, DEA, National Guard, 14th Judicial Drug Task Force and Arkansas Game and Fish are assisting in the search.

Josh Middleton went missing in January 2005. The previous day 56-year-old Charles Daniel House was found shot to death in his car by a Mt. Judea school bus driver on Hershey Road.
Ricky Freeman

Ricky Freeman, 51, was arrested on a litany of charges in Harrison the same day that House was found murdered. Rickey Freeman's house was destroyed in a fire not long after House's murder and his arrest.

Over the years authorities have chased down several reported sightings of Josh Middleton. Some of those reported sightings have taken them to different states, but they have all ended with the same result, Josh Middleton is still missing.

Investigators have recovered quite bit of property in their search this week, but they have not determined if all of it has been reported stolen. Slape says the have found a stolen truck, and log skidder on the property. They have also found a license plate from a vehicle that was reported stolen. Authorities are planning to dig up a vehicle they have discovered buried on the property.

Cops have also seized a trailer filled with tools and other property they have recovered from the search.

Ricky Middleton was arrested in January and charged with conspiracy to kidnap and conspiracy to escape.

Middleton’s brother, David Middleton, 53, of Mt. Judea, was arrested in November on federal methamphetamine charges. Slape says that jail employees had been monitoring calls from David Middleton to Ricky Middleton when they discovered a plot to kidnap Sheriff Slape's young son and break David Middleton out of jail. David Middleton pleaded guilty to the federal meth charges last month.

Ricky Middleton was arrested on a bond revocation after a bench warrant was issued for his arrest for theft by receiving and altering vehicle identification related to this search.

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