Earhart arrested, Kirtland ID'd

Bryan police confirmed Thursday that a body found on Tuesday was that of 9-year-old Kandy Kirtland of Bryan, who had been missing since May 12.

Kandy would have graduated today from Crockett Elementary School.

Police also said 44-year-old James Otto Earhart, who was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of kidnapping Kandy, has now been warned by magistrate on suspicion of capital murder. 

Earhart, of 304-B E. 23rd St., is being held without bond in the Brazos County Jail. 

Police and the Kirtland family have been waiting since Tuesday for the identification of a body found on a dirt road near Villa Maria Road. The clothes on the body were similar to those Kandy was wearing when she was last seen, but police said they could not be sure the body was that of Kandy until they received positive forensic evidence. 

"They (Kandy's father and stepmother) were fairly certain from Tuesday on that it was Kandy," said Rev. Richard Maples, the pastor at the Kirtland's church, First Baptist Church of Bryan. "There was a sense of now that they know for sure, they can get n with their grief, and also, get on with their life."

Kandy was last seen alive at about 3:40 p.m., when her school bus dropped of her off about 20 yards from her home. When her parents arrive home about 20 minutes later, they found her house key on a table in the house, and her schoolbooks on the outside porch. 

A neighbor told police she had seem Kandy speaking to someone in a sedan parked in front of the Kirtland house shortly before her disappearance. 

Bryan Police Department Chief Charles Phelps said Thursday that Kandy was found fully clothed, face down underneath some debris. Her hands were bound behind her, and she had been shot once in the head with a small-caliber pistol, he said. 

Complete results of the autopsy probably will not be available for about two weeks, Phelps said. 

Bryan Police Sgt. Choya Walling said police will not know the date of death or whether Kandy was killed in the area where her body was found until they receive the complete autopsy results.

Normally, any evidence used to obtain an arrest warrant is released as public information in a probable cause statement. But Justice of the Peace B. H. Dewey Jr. sealed the probably cause statemtn for Earhart's arrest on suspicion of capital murder from public view, on advice fro the district attorney's office. 

Earhart was arrested at about 2 a.m. on Tuesday in Sam Houston National Forest  as he lay sleeping in his car. Walker County Sheriff's Department deputies who arrested him said Earhart offered no resistance. 

Deputies said they also found a .22 caliber pistol in the front seat of Earhart's car. Walling said police have not yet performed ballistics tests with the pistol. 

Walling said that even though Kandy's body has been found, and a suspect has been arrested, "we have just begun this case."

"A lot of what you might call the easy things have been done," Walling said. "We still have a lot of evidence that need to be processed." 

Walling also said police will wait until after the investigation into Kandy's death is completed before looking into any connection between Earhart and the unsolved murder of 51-year-old Ruth Green. 

Green disappeared on Feb. 8, 1986, from a Bryan bakery. Her body was found nine days later in the general vicinity of where Earhart was arrested. She had been stabbed and shot, and her killer has never been found. 

Police found newspaper clippings of her murder, and of several other crimes, in Earhart's home. 

"Our major concern is with the Kandy Kirtland murder," Walling said. "And all our input, all of our forces and all of our manpower will be directed in that case."

Phelps also said Wednesday that some of the crimes mentioned in the newspaper articles found in Earhart's home had been solved. 

Kandy's funeral is tentatively scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church in Bryan. 

Maples said the family is requesting that any memorials for Kandy be made to the Kandy Kirtland Memorial at the First Baptist Church. All money recieved will be used to set up a fund for teaching safety education to children in Bryan and College Station schools, Maples said. 

"They wanted to set up the fund so other children might be spared what happened to Kandy," Maples said. 

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