Nearly a year after Rebecca Lauer’s family reported her missing, a guilty plea has been made after an investigation that was able to produce only fragments of what may be her remains.
Dennis Richard Harrington, 42, of Lonoke, on June 16 stood before Lonoke County Circuit Judge Sandy Huckabee and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Lauer’s death.
Huckabee sentenced Harrington to a term of 45 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.
Harrington was also charged with abuse of a corpse in Lauer’s death.
Lauer, 35, had been in a relationship with Harrington; on July 28, 2013 Lauer’s family reported her missing.
The investigation into Lauer’s disappearance led first to Harrington’s arrest in Sept. 22, 2013 on charges of kidnapping and domestic battery.
At the time of Lauer’s disappearance, Harrington was on parole after serving time in Arkansas Department of Correction for terroristic threatening and aggravated assault.
Harrington’s parole was revoked after his Sept. 2013 arrest and was returned to ADC Oct. 8, 2013.
In January 2014, investigators filed a charge of murder against Harrington, and charged Steven D. Boulanger, 36, Austin, with abuse of a corpse; hindering apprehension or prosecution; and tampering with physical evidence in Lauer’s death.
Investigators claimed Boulanger helped Harrington destroy Lauer’s body by burning it. Lauer was last seen at Harrington’s residence on Clay Hill Road in rural, northeast Lonoke County.
Investigators based the charge on information collected from several sources and included claims of having seen a body. The information led investigators to an area near Harrington’s residence where he had been seen burning items.
According to the affidavit, investigators searched the area and collected "several items that were consistent with burned bones and bone fragments…"
The items were sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for identification, which were then sent to the Center for Human Identification Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology at Denton, Texas. The results showed that two of the fragments were human bone. However, due to the condition of the fragments, DNA could not be identified.