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Man pleads ‘not guilty’ to capital murder

A Lonoke County man pleaded not guilty last week in Lonoke County Circuit to charges including capital murder in the case of a county woman reported missing in July 2013.

Dennis R. Harrington, 41, Austin, answered the charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, domestic battery and abuse of a corpse. Harrington was charged as a habitual criminal.

Harrington appeared before Circuit Judge Sandy Huckabee; trial dates were set for April.

The charges are in the investigation into the disappearance of Rebecca Lauer, 36, of Lonoke. Family members reported Lauer missing July 28, 2013.

Harrington was arrested Sept. 22, 2013, on the kidnapping charge.

Prosecuting attorney Chuck Graham in January 2014 amended the original charge, adding the first-degree murder charge.

At the time of Lauer’s disappearance, Harrington was on parole after serving confinement in Arkansas Department of Correction for terroristic threatening and aggravated assault.

That parole was revoked after his Sept. 22, 2013, arrest for kidnapping and domestic abuse in connection with Lauer’s disappearance. He was returned to ADC Oct. 8, 2013.

Capital murder is a class Y felony; abuse of a corpse is a class C felony. There are only two options on conviction for capital murder - life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

A second man, Steven D. Boulanger, 36, Austin, was arrested in February in the case of Lauer’s disappearance.

Boulanger has been charged with abuse of a corpse; hindering apprehension or prosecution; and tampering with physical evidence; all are felonies.

At the time of Lauer’s disappearance, Harrington was on parole after serving confinement in Arkansas Department of Correction for terroristic threatening and aggravated assault. Parole was revoked after his Sept. 22, 2013, arrest for kidnapping and domestic abuse in connection with Lauer’s disappearance. He was returned to ADC Oct. 8, 2013.

Investigators claim Boulanger helped Harrington destroy Lauer’s body by burning it. The affidavit says Lauer was last seen at Harrington’s residence on Clay Hill Road in rural, northeast Lonoke County.

In affidavits, Harrington said he last saw Lauer on July 21, that she was at his house when he left to see a friend but was gone when he returned.

Information from several sources, including claims of having seen a body, led investigators to an area near Harrington’s residence where he had been seen burning items.

Acting on a search warrant in September 2013, investigators searched the area, collecting “several items that were consistent with burned bones and bone fragments…”

The items were sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for identification, which were then sent to the Center for Human Identification Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology at Denton, Texas. The resulting report advised that of the identified bones, two of them were found to be human bone. However, due to the bones being burned, DNA could not be identified.

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