Heavy hearts weighed on the real estate community Tuesday as condolences from practitioners around the country poured in for the loss of Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter, who was found dead days after going missing following a home showing in a rural area just outside of Little Rock.
"My heart is broken for Beverly's family," reads one of dozens of comments left on a Facebook page in Carter's memory. "Just looking at her picture, her sweet eyes tell you she had a kind heart and loving spirit. I will be lifting you all up in prayer for strength, comfort, and peace."
"Beverly, you left a legacy," reads another comment, which was posted along with a video of singer Nichole Nordeman's "Legacy."
Carter's disappearance grabbed national headlines when it sparked a massive search for her whereabouts that involved hundreds of volunteers. The 49-year-old agent had been showing a vacant bank-owned property on Thursday in Scott, Ark., before she went missing.
"As both a REALTOR® and an Arkansan, I am saddened by this morning's news of Beverly Carter's untimely death," NAR 2014 President-Elect Chris Polychron said in a statement. "My heart goes out to her family, her friends, her co-workers, and everyone whose life Beverly touched in her 49 years with us. Working in real estate involves risk, and, unfortunately, that risk takes many forms. As an industry, we collectively work very hard to promote safety awareness among our members. We are fully committed to educating REALTORS® about potential threats and providing them with resources to protect themselves. I urge all REALTORS® to honor Beverly Carter by keeping safe and looking out for each other."
Arron Lewis, 33, a suspect in Carter's disappearance, was arrested on Monday. "Lewis admitted ... to kidnapping Beverly Carter, but would not divulge her whereabouts," the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office said at the time. Police say Lewis will be charged with capital murder.
Investigators said shortly after Lewis was apprehended, they were able to obtain additional information that led them to Carter's body, which was found in a shallow grave.
Carter had called her husband on Thursday to tell him the address of the home she was showing prior to the 5:30 p.m. appointment. She was to show two other properties that day but failed to make the other appointments. Her husband, Carl Carter, later reported his wife missing after not hearing from her for several hours. He also went to the address of the home she had provided him and found her brown Cadillac still parked outside with her purse inside. The door to the residence was left open, but she was not inside.
Lewis, who was on parole for previous offenses, had been involved in a traffic accident Sunday. Police found his car on top of a concrete culvert, and Lewis told police that a car had run him off the road, according to police reports. Witnesses, however, reported that Lewis was traveling at high speed prior to the crash. Paramedics had taken Lewis to the hospital and treated him for face injuries, but he was not arrested in connection with Carter's disappearance at that time. An arrest warrant was issued later Sunday.
Police say there had been activity on Carter's cell phone after her disappearance, including text messages. CBS11 Arkansas reported that Carl received three mysterious texts from his wife's phone at about 1 a.m. Friday, which he says did not sound like her.
"All of a sudden I received three texts in a row," he told CBS11. "One said, 'Yes.'… Then she sent another text that said, 'My phone's low. The battery's down, and I'll call you whenever I get signal.' … And then, straight back-to-back, I received a text that said 'Oh, I'm out drinking with some friends.' … Beverly's not a drinker. … We just want our mom back, and my wife of 35 years. … I need her."
Carter's death places an unfortunate emphasis on REALTOR® Safety Month, which occurs every September, and has prompted many practitioners to call for safer practices in the real estate occupation.
"This is not a time for speculation of what she should've done, but a time of reminder for what we all need to be doing to assure safety in this industry," Brian Copeland, GRI, CIPS, of Village Real Estate Services in Nashville, Tenn., writes on Facebook. "Consumers, understand when we are cautious and ask you to provide items you think are a waste of your time. REALTORS® have a value way beyond a website or commission. REALTORS® create, study, and share safety procedures, and get to a safety class when they are offered at your association and brokerage. While Beverly's death has no purpose, let's try to honor her by being understanding consumers and smart REALTORS®. Now, God rest our sister."
Source: REALTOR® Magazine, “Body of Missing Arkansas Real Estate Agent Found in Shallow Grave,” CNN (Sept. 30, 2014), and “Timeline: Arkansas REALTOR® Found Dead; Suspect in Custody,” CBS11 Arkansas (Sept. 30, 2014)