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Prosecutor: Fayetteville murder suspect will face death penalty

Police said Appling was carrying a backpack containing items "that could be used to subdue, kill, dismember, and bury a body," when he was arrested.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A Fayetteville man is facing the death penalty after being accused of killing his then-girlfriend's father on Rocky Creek Road in November 2020.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office reported that on Nov. 12, 2020, deputies responded to the home after 53-year-old John Hurlburt called police and said that someone had broken into his home around 11:15 that night.

Hurlburt said during the 911 call that he had tased the suspect, hit the person over the head with a weight and that the person had fallen back off of his porch. He also said that the suspect may have a gun, according to the sheriff's office.

Later in the 911 call, Hurlburt identified the attacker as his daughter's boyfriend. He then stopped answering questions and dispatch stated it sounded like he was screaming for help. 

Deputies arrived in the area just before 11:30 p.m. and saw a person running. Deputies ran towards the person and began yelling commands to stop, identifying themselves as law enforcement, police said.

NEWS RELEASE: November 13, 2020 Homicide Investigation - Suspect Arrested

Posted by Washington County Sheriff's Office on Friday, November 13, 2020

Once the person reached the edge of the woods, he collapsed. Deputies found a firearm close by after the man said he'd dropped it. Police say the suspect was carrying a backpack containing items "that could be used to subdue, kill, dismember, and bury a body."

The suspect, later identified as Samuel Appling, 22 at the time, of Fayetteville, was covered in blood and had a knife, the sheriff's office stated. The blade and handle were covered in blood.

Once Appling was in custody deputies found Hurlburt lying on his back on the living room floor of the home, dead from apparent stab wounds, according to police.

Appling was arrested for capital murder, burglary and fleeing on foot.

On Oct. 13, 2022, Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Durrett announced he is seeking the death penalty against Appling, stating that the murder he is accused of "was committed in an especially cruel or depraved manner."

We will update this article with more information as it becomes available.

Report on Nov. 13, 2022:


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