Arnold funeral expected to draw large crowds

Community will gather at 2 p.m. Friday at the high school's gym
2012-03-29T18:15:00Z 2014-05-20T15:38:16Z Arnold funeral expected to draw large crowdsBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The community will gather at 2 p.m. on Friday to remember Sherry Arnold at Sidney High School, the place where for years she taught math and influenced the lives of countless students.

Community leaders are expecting the whole of Sidney to show up.

“I think this funeral will probably be as big as Governor Nutter’s,” said Sidney Mayor Bret Smelser, referring to Donald Nutter, the governor of Montana who died in a plane crash in 1962.

City hall will be closed for the afternoon, as will many local businesses. Flags around town will be flown at half-staff.

Funeral services will be in the high school’s gymnasium, which was built to hold 2,000 people.

“I expect we’ll hit capacity,” said Dan Farr, superintendent of Sidney Public Schools.

In anticipation, the school is preparing additional rooms with a video feed to seat an overflow crowd if need be. Arnold was a popular math teacher at Sidney High, where her husband, Gary, also works and her two children attend school. She grew up on a ranch outside Sidney.

Arnold disappeared early in the morning on Jan. 7 after leaving home for a morning run. Her body wasn’t located until March 21, outside Williston, N.D.

According to court documents, one of the suspects in her disappearance, Michael Keith Spell, 22, confessed to his role in what he described as the crack-fueled abduction and killing of Arnold.

Spell told investigators he pulled her into a car and Lester Van Waters Jr., 48, the other suspect in the case, choked her to death before they buried her in a shallow grave on a farmstead near Williston.

Authorities have said Spell attempted to take FBI agents to the site but he couldn’t find it.

The discovery of Arnold’s remains last week across state lines from where the alleged kidnapping occurred means federal charges could be filed against the two suspects.

Spell and Waters, both of Parachute, Colo., have been charged in state court and are being held on $2.5 million bail each.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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