Man Charged with Murder 32 Years After Hunters Discover Sabrina Underwood’s Remains in Arkansas
According to Arkansas State Police, a tip from an inmate and an additional confession from the accused killer resulted in the resolution of a 32-year-old cold case.
Rick Allen Headley, 48, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sabrina Lynn Underwood, 19, of Huntsville, in 1991, according to a news release issued by state police on Friday. Headley is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the Varner Unit in Lincoln County after admitting guilty to capital murder for the March 2018 stabbing death of his estranged spouse, Kirstie Headley, in Mountain Home.
Court Date Set for Suspect in Sabrina Underwood Cold Case – A Look Back at the Unsolved Mystery
According to state police, Headley is scheduled to appear in Fulton County Circuit Court on Nov. 13 in the Underwood case.
According to The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Underwood’s remains were discovered in April 1991, less than three months after she was reported missing.
Loretta Underwood last saw her daughter on Jan. 20, 1991, when she left her off at the point of US 412 and US 62 near Bear Creek Springs in Boone County. She intended to hitchhike 70 miles east to Izard County. According to the article, her partner was imprisoned at the North Central Unit at Calico Rock.
According to a police affidavit, she made the same trip a week earlier on Jan. 13, but she did not make it to her objective this time.
When Underwood’s boyfriend called her mother to inquire about her absence from her arranged visit. On January 24, a missing person report was made with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.
Two turkey hunters discovered a bundle of garments near the Gum Springs Cemetery in Fulton County on April 8, about 140 miles from Huntsville. Human remains were also discovered and eventually recognized as belonging to Underwood, according to the publication. The death “was ruled unexplained at the time,” according to KATV.
Arkansas State Police stated they worked with a judicial drug task force and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office to examine the case in the years since.
Witness Confession and Suspect Admission Lead to Arrest in Sabrina Underwood’s 32-Year-Old Murder Case
State police Special Agent Justin Nowlin received a tip in July 2022 from an attorney who said his client had information that could lead to the identification of a suspect in Underwood’s murder. During an interrogation, the witness gave investigators a confession letter written by Headley that detailed Underwood’s murder.
Investigators questioned Headley on August 24, 2022. Headley identified a photo of Underwood and acknowledged to drafting the confession letter, according to an affidavit.
Headley told investigators that Underwood tried to persuade him for money, according to the affidavit. He “knew he was unable to allow her ruin his life,” KATV reports.
According to the publication, Headley stated in his interview that he hoped no one else was arrested for Underwood’s death.
According to an Arkansas State Police official, Underwood’s family, including her mother, who is now in her 70s, are “very happy” that the case has been solved.
“Sabrina’s family continues to suffer from the pain of her absence from work, but we hope this week’s arrest could provide them with some comfort and long-awaited answers,” state police director Col. Mike Hagar said in a news release. “We will never give up on seeking justice for families like the Underwoods.”