Fort Smith Police 'Failed to Follow Protocol' After Kidnapping Report

FORT SMITH -- The Fort Smith Police Department says they failed to follow protocol during the reported kidnapping of a woman from a parking lot by a sex offender back on June 24.

The department has completed its internal investigation concerning the Department’s response to a 911 call from a manager who first reported seeing what he said looked to be a woman being forced into a car by a man. The Department’s findings "revealed a failure to follow established protocol in responding to this type of call." Chief Kevin Lindsey said he has initiated appropriate discipline and mandated additional training in Communications.

Ardwin Frank Sylvester of Fort Smith was arrested on charges of Kidnapping, Aggravated Robbery, Rape, and Felon in Possession of a Firearm after a 911 operator got a call that a woman had run from a parked car at an EZ-Mart in Ashdown, AR, screaming to call 911 and that she had been kidnapped.

The victim, a 54-year-old-woman, reported that morning she was approached by a man at her vehicle in the Staples parking lot on the 5700 block of Rogers Avenue. The man, later identified as Sylvester, used a gun to force her into her car and drove her out of the city limits on Highway 71 South. She said while traveling between Fort Smith and Mena, Sylvester sexually assaulted her. While refueling at an EZ-Mart in Ashdown, Arkansas, the woman ran from the car and began screaming for help.

Ardwin drove away from the scene in the victim’s car and was later taken into custody in Sevier County after a pursuit with the Arkansas State Police (ASP).

During the investigation, police learned a manager of Staples had called 911 to report it appeared a woman was "unwillingly" getting into a car with a man and the man may have been armed with a gun or a metal pipe. The manager gave vehicle information and direction of travel as the vehicle left the parking lot. Police said a notice was sent out to officers to be on the lookout, but an officer was not sent to the scene. It was 911 dispatch's response to this call that prompted the internal investigation.

Ardwin is listed as a level three registered sex offender, convicted of rape, according to the Arkansas Crime Information Center.

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