By John Balch
The search for a missing 71-year-old Amity woman has been suspended but the investigation into her disappearance in the remote and rugged Shawmut area of Pike County is ongoing, according to Pike County Sheriff Charlie Caldwell.
Linda L. Bean was the focal point of a Silver Alert issued last weekend by the Arkansas State Police. She was last seen near the intersection of the Caddo Gap Road and the Shawmut Road. Bean is described as a white female, 5’02” tall and weighing around 126 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes.
Bean was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years back, according officials at the search staging area near the Woods Cemetery. The search for Bean started early Saturday morning.
Bean is said to have been with her boyfriend, Joseph Steven Hentsch, 56, of Amity Friday night at a nearby deer camp. Hentsch reportedly told law officials he got his truck stuck in a ditch after leaving the camp and that he walked out to find help and when he returned Bean was gone.
Caldwell said last Monday afternoon the state police have taken over the investigation related to Bean’s disappearance. As of Monday morning, Hentsch was still being held in Clark County on a pending charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Charges are also pending against Hentsch in Pike County. His bond in Clark County has been set at $70,000.
More than 120 searchers – professional and volunteers – combed a 10-mile radius around the area where Bean was last seen, according to Pike County Emergency Services Coordinator Hesston Teel. Teel said the operation has involved searches on foot, horseback, ATV and via helicopters provided by the state police and Air-Evac ambulance service. There has also been a steady supply of food and water donated by area businesses and individuals as well as the Arkansas chapter of the American Red Cross.
Assisting the Pike County and Clark County sheriff departments in the search were members of the “A-2” deer camp, the Delight Riding Club and the Garland County Sheriff’s Department, all of which searched from horseback; search and rescue divisions from Johnson, Sebastian, Grant, Hempstead, Little River and Clark counties; Arkansas State Parks; Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Arkansas Forestry Commission; Arkansas State Task Force Canine Unit; Arkansas Department of Emergency Management; and Guardian Ambulance Service.