The murder of Higginson police officer Daniel Longstreet in 1997 is expected to be featured on Investigation Discovery, a network dedicated to true crime stories.
Higginson Mayor Randall Homsley confirmed that a producer from Investigation Discovery spent two weeks in Higginson gathering interviews and video for its show, “Murder in the Heartland.”
The show is expected to air after the first of the year, but an exact date isn’t known at this time.
Longstreet, who lived in Searcy, was shot multiple times March 14, 1997, and found dead in his police vehicle by convenience store owner Jerry Riley and his wife, Hazel. The location was in the 300 block of Walker Road. At the time of his death, Longstreet was 39 years old.
Searcy Mayor Kyle Osborne said Longstreet used to work for the Searcy Police Department, too.
According to information in the case, a person in a nearby residence heard three gunshots at 5:20 a.m. that March 14. Longstreet was reportedly found seated in the driver’s seat of his car with the passenger side window “shot out.” The pronouncement of Longstreet’s death was reportedly at 6:15 a.m.
Homsley was a Higginson police officer at the time and wrote the complaint report – homicide, officer down. Homsley said in his report that he was on his way to take his wife to work and heard on his portable police radio the White County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher calling for any state unit in the Higginson area. He was informed that an officer was down at the four-way stop of Walker Road and Arkansas Highway 11.
In his report, Homsley said when he arrived at Longstreet’s police unit, there were two individuals standing at the driver’s side of the vehicle with the door open. As he moved around to the driver’s door, one of the individuals, Hazel Riley, had Longstreet’s head in her hands. Homsley in his report said he asked the individual to back away as he checked for vital signs. He found none.
He then radioed dispatch to send the ambulance service Pro-Med and was advised Pro-Med was already en route. Homsley said he continued to support Longstreet’s body until Pro-Med arrived. Pro-Med, a state and a county unit, arrived on scene and Homsley assumed the duty of keeping individuals away from the crime scene.
According to a news release, three days later on March 17, White County deputies along with officers of the Arkansas State Police and the Higginson Police Department arrested a 17-year-old Searcy youth and intended to file formal charges of capital murder on the youth March 18. Officers also intended to charge his 18-year-old wife with hindering apprehension and set a bond of $200,000 for her. Formal charges for her were scheduled for March 18.
Homsley said Timothy Lee Askins was the person who shot Longstreet and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Askins, now 50, is being housed in the Cummins Unit in Grady.
Jess Fulgham, the 17-year-old who took Askins to the scene, was charged with capital murder and Homsley said he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Kristie Fulgham was charged with hindering apprehension and pleaded guilty, serving about six years in prison.
Homsley said Kristie Fulgham was pregnant at the time of the crime and didn’t serve much time at all.
He explained the reason for the shooting was that “it was one of those things that if Askins silenced Officer Longstreet, he couldn’t testify against him in a case Askins was involved in.”
“Me and Danny both had arrested him (Askins) on several occasions for different things,” Homsley said. “I was actually the one who went and served the warrant that Danny did, an affidavit warrant that didn’t come out for a while and I went and served it on Timothy.”
Asked if being first on the scene had any long-term effect on him, Homsley said that was the question the producer from Investigation Discovery kept asking him when she was in town.
“No, honestly it affects you – that was my brother [in law enforcement] and it affected me deeply – but I never have flashbacks about it. I guess it’s my Marine Corps background.”
Another news release included information that Longstreet was married and had three children.
On the morning of his death, Longstreet’s time card indicated he checked in for work at 3:25 a.m. He reportedly shined his spotlight on Hazel Riley, who was working at a cafe southbound on Arkansas Highway 11 at 4:35 a.m., a friendly gesture he did in the mornings. Homsley said Riley, who died last year, was the first one to find Longstreet.
At 4:41 a.m., Longstreet made a registration check through White County. At 4:45 a.m., a witness saw Longstreet parked on a concrete pad. Between 5:12 a.m. and 5:20 a.m., numerous witnesses pinpointed hearing three gunshots. A 911 call at 5:31 a.m. indicated that Longstreet had been shot.
Searcy resident J.R. Howard, who is retired in 2004 from the Arkansas State Police, was an investigator in Longstreet’s case, said he was also interviewed by Investigation Discovery.
Howard said it is a shock anytime a police officer is murdered and it’s a shock anytime anyone is murdered.
“You got families and the suspect that have to live with it, too,” Howard said. “Any homicide has got tentacles that reach out in different directions. It is tragic anytime a law enforcement officer is killed, especially under the circumstances he was killed.”
In his career, Howard said he has been involved in investigating a total of four police officer murders.
“Police assassinations back then weren’t very common at all,” Howard said. “It is not unusual now for somebody to walk up to a car and shoot and kill a police officer. Back then, it was rare.”
Asked if he knew Longstreet, Howard said he knew who he was but did not know him personally.
“You got to have to have a real severe hatred of someone to walk up in cold blood and shoot somebody three times and, of course, that gun doesn’t know how old that fella is that’s pulling the trigger,” Howard said. “It is sad the age that suspect was in this case  and his accomplices were just kids.”
Howard said the other police murders he helped investigate included one in Conway, two in Cotton Plant and one April 5, 1977, in Beebe. Howard said an arrest was made in the Beebe murder in 2002, 25 years later. “None of those are good memories,” Howard said. “The families never forget.”
Longstreet is featured on the national Officer Down Memorial Page on Facebook with a summary written that says he was killed to silence his testimony in an insurance fraud case. It is also stated that on Sept. 8, 1977, Askins pleaded guilty unexpectedly during a preliminary arraignment.
Longstreet’s tour of duty with the Higginson Police Department lasted two years. His daughters have posted reflections on their father in his section of the Officer Down Memorial Page.
In August 2008, Homsley posted on Longstreet’s memorial page that he and the residents of Higginson will never forget his dedication to duty and the ultimate sacrifice that he and his family made on that day he was killed. “In your Honor we are proud to dedicate our new City Hall Building in your name. God bless each and every one of the surviving family members to this great man.”