With tonight’s open line comes a story shared with me by Byron Tate, publisher of the Sheridan Headlight, which reports on the final days of Rusty Draper, who died in  April in the East Arkansas Regional Unit of state prisons  where he was serving a life sentence for the murder of a 17-year-old Sheridan High student.


We reported on Draper’s plea bargain in May 2018.  The Headlight reported then that Draper killed Austin Moody after stalking him when Moody began dating a woman who had previously gone out with Draper’s son.

Few details were released about Draper’s prison death, except that he didn’t respond to treatment after being found in distress.


Tate obtained the State Police investigation of the death, which concluded that Draper committed suicide by taking an overdose of blood pressure medicine. Records indicated he had attempted suicide once before, had received mental health treatment and twice been placed on “treatment precaution” during the 11 months he was in prison. The report details communications with family, expressions of regret and a check that his life insurance was in order.

The article has been posted on the Headlight’s website, but it’s a subscription site. Tate has allowed me to share it here.


Suicide deaths in Arkansas prisons, along with deaths from overdoses of illegal drugs, have been in the news regularly. Attention, too, has been heightened to such deaths by the apparent suicide death in New York of Jeffrey Epstein, the sexual predator financier.