HOT SPRINGS — Lt. James “Corky” Martin of the Garland County Sheriff’s Department released a statement on May 9 regarding Jason Ripley, of Hot Springs, discovered in Sevierville, TN at 3:25am Wednesday. Since that time, the story has made national headlines. Ripley, who was found at an eastern Tennessee motel, was arrested on preliminary charges of kidnapping and first-degree battery. Lt. Martin says he allegedly held Sabrina Morton against her will and tortured her. Morton later told Lt. Martin that she went with him willingly. It’s believed Ripley beat Morton and burned her with a torch and cigarettes.
28 year old Samantha Wright of Hot Springs was arrested with Ripley. Wright has been charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance and will also be charged with Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution, a class A Felony.
The following is a statement from Lt. Martin:
Information was received that led investigators to believe that Ripley was staying at the Days Inn on 65th Street in Little Rock. Sheriff Sanders, who was going to Little Rock, was briefed on the information and checked the hotel for the suspect vehicle at approximately 10:00pm on 05/08/12. A vehicle matching the description of one being driven by Ripley was located in the parking lot.
Further investigation by the Sheriff revealed that the car was not our suspect vehicle, but that a room had in fact been rented by Wright and Ripley. The Sheriff was able to clear that room with the assistance of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department. Our Investigators arrived on scene around 11:00 pm and were able to gain information that led them to believe Ripley and Wright had left the Little Rock area and may be staying in a motel in Sevierville, TN.
At approximately 2:45am the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the possibility that these two were staying in a local motel in their area. With the assistance of the Sevierville Police Department, the Sevier County S.O. was able to locate the suspect vehicle, determine the room number and take both Ripley and Wright into custody without incident.
A secondary statement was later released from Lt. Martin:
During the arrest in Sevierville, TN., law enforcement officials involved in the arrest evidently recovered an unknown amount of suspected methamphetamine, cocaine and cash. Due to this, it is unknown how the extradition process will play out and when he may be returned to Arkansas.
Information from the victims (Morton) statement to our investigators was that Morton actually was NOT taken from the Turtle Creek address against her will. She left willingly with Ripley and actually spent Thursday and Friday in his company, as friends.
At some point on Saturday, is when the suspect became angry with her and refused to let her leave. Morton and Ripley have been involved in an intimate relationship in the past, but the relationship at the time of the Kidnapping is not clear.
The Garland County Sheriff's Office released a media notice May 7 regarding Ripley, with a reward for information leading to his conviction.