2 SW Mo. men charged in 9-year-old's rape, murder are arraigned

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CASSVILLE, Mo. (AP) -- Two southwest Missouri men have been arraigned on charges in the rape and murder of 9-year-old Rowan Ford.

The girl's stepfather David Spears and his friend Chris Collings pleaded not guilty Tuesday at their arraignment in Barry County District Court. The 32-year-old Collings asked for a change of venue.

They are charged with first-degree murder, forcible rape and statutory rape in the November slaying of Ford, who disappeared from her home in Stella on Nov. 3.

After a nearly weeklong search, the girl's body was found in a cave in nearby McDonald County.

Prosecutors say both men have confessed to the crime, but authorities are trying to reconcile discrepancies between the two defendants' accounts of the events leading to the girl's death.

Information from The Joplin Globe: http://www.joplinglobe.com

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