Drug Use Linked to Kidnap, Murder


This week, prosecutors filed an affidavit in a Montana case where the details of the kidnapping and murder of Sherry Arnold are laid out. At times gruesome and at other times banal, the story is one of an older man, Lester Waters, 47 and a younger sidekick, Michael Spell, 22.

The pair drove around several states, including North and South Dakota and into Montana. According to statements, crack cocaine was the drug of choice while doing so. The trip started in Colorado a couple of days before the crime, and the older partner, Waters, was smoking crack during the entire trip. The younger of the pair, Spell, seems to blame the crack for the crime. The affidavit reads in part, “Spell said Waters told him crack cocaine brought “the devil” out in him and he [Waters] was capable of doing anything while using crack cocaine.

The two were driving through a part of Montana, about 50 miles from their home base in North Dakota – a Walmart parking lot where transients looking for work would park and sleep in their vehicles. Waters spotted Sherry Arnold jogging and decided right then to grab her. Spell got her in the vehicle under Waters’ direction. Then, according to Spell, Waters “choked her out.”

The pair drove around with corpse, went back to Williston and threwing out Arnold’s clothing in a dumpster, they drove outside of town and left the body in a rural area. Subsequently, they returned to Walmart, purchased a shovel, buried the body and then returned the shovel for a refund.

While the crime is solved in one sense, there are troubling questions left. How significant is the crack cocaine use that threads through the tale? Is a mind damaged by cocaine more likely to act impulsively and violently?

According to news reports, the alleged murderer, Waters, has spent time in a Florida penitentiary, but details of his previous crimes were not mentioned.


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