Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Monday signed papers seeking the extradition of two men held in North Dakota on charges related to the abduction of Sidney schoolteacher Sherry Arnold.
In a flurry of paperwork, Schweitzer formally requested that authorities in North Dakota allow Montana law enforcement to transport Michael Keith Spell and Lester Vann Waters to Richland County, where they are charged with aggravated kidnapping.
The formal extradition request was signed by Schweitzer on Monday based on applications recently submitted to his office by Deputy Richland County Attorney Janet Christoffersen.
The papers now go North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple for review. If North Dakota authorities approve the request, the papers will be served on Waters and Spell, who are being held on Montana fugitive warrants in a Williston jail.
Waters, 47, and Spell, 22, were arrested about five days after Arnold's disappearance during an early morning jog on Jan. 7. The FBI and Richland County law enforcement authorities announced the arrest of the men but have not released any information on what evidence they believe connects them to Arnold's abduction and possible murder.
Arnold, 43, a popular math teacher, has not been located, and authorities have said that they presume she is dead. The FBI has asked landowners in North Dakota and northeastern Montana to search their property for signs of the woman's body.
The formal extradition proceedings could be served on Waters and Spell as soon as North Dakota officials approve the request. The next scheduled court appearance in Williston for Waters and Spell is Feb. 14. Once the papers are served, Montana authorities are clear to transport the men to Sidney.
Waters and Spell have been charged in Sidney City Court with aggravated kidnapping, but the charging documents lack any probable-cause affidavits explaining what evidence law enforcement has linking the men to the crime. The cases will have to be moved to District Court, where such felony offenses are prosecuted.
The extradition applications also are bereft of any probable cause information, which is required in order for a judge to grant a prosecution request to file a criminal complaint.