10:08 AM
The 51 year-old brother of a man who is currently in the Benton County, Arkansas jail on federal drug charges has been arrested for allegedly conspiring to help his brother escape and attempting to kidnap Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape's son.

Ricky Lynn Middleton

Sheriff Slape says Ricky L. Middleton, 51, of Mt. Judea was arrested Friday on conspiracy to kidnap and conspiracy to escape charges.

Middleton’s brother, 53-year-old David Middleton of Mt. Judea, was arrested in November on methamphetamine charges. Because he is being held on a US Marshals hold county officials are not permitted to release his mug shot.

Slape says that jail employees have been monitoring calls from David Middleton to Ricky Middleton when they discovered the plot.

Sheriff Slape says inmates are informed of jail policy when they are booked in that their phone calls and visits are subject to be monitored. Slape did acknowledge that the escape plot had probably fallen by the wayside as authorities tighten security, but he said his “vested interest” was in his family’s safety.

Another brother of the Middleton's, Josh, 20, has been missing since 2005. The last person seen with Josh Middleton was 56-year-old Charles Daniel House. House was found shot to death in his car on Mt. Hershey Road by a school bus driver in late January 2005.

Rickey Freeman of Mt. Judea was arrested on varied charges in Harrison that same day. Slape believes Freeman was the last person seen with House and Middleton. Freeman’s Newton County home was destroyed in a fire not long after his arrest.

Slape says that he has moved his family to a "safe house."

Slape said that he is not going to be intimidated and that threats are not going to slow or halt the investigation into illegal crime in Newton County. "I’m not going to cow down to these people,” he said. “I’ve got a job to do.”