It's Not Always Sunny in Fort Smith, Arkansas

Introduction to the Nightmare

FORT SMITH, ARKANSAS - To the common visitor Fort Smith seems like a nice and quiet little bordertown. If you pick up the daily newspaper and begin to muse through the insides, one can see that something is askew in the city. Typically rife with crystal meth, domestic violence, and alcohol related crimes the underbelly of the seedy side in Fort Smith is hidden within the catacombs of city streets and "certain neighborhoods" like any other city but these crimes of domestic violence, methamphetamine, and/or alcohol related crimes happen with a frequency not even the local news team could keep up with. Most every city across the United States has a "Police Calls" or "Arrest Reports" section of crimes that are newsworthy to inform the public of the goings on in their area of the town. An entire edition of the newspaper would have to be printed to keep up with everything that happens on a daily basis. I have lived in many different areas of the country and from personal experience and statistical facts, I have seen these newspaper sections ranging from "Unsolved Murder Last Night on Harper Avenue..." in Detroit to "A dead raccoon was found on the porch of a resident at..." in Findlay, Ohio. When I pick up the paper in Fort Smith, Arkansas astonishment awaits me everyday to find out how many domestic violence and drug/alcohol violent/theft related incidents happen that are just "reported" in the news. The true horrors of real life are alive and very apparent in the city once dubbed "Hell on the Border" or "The Hanging City". This article will reveal the past and present state of HORROR in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I am not writing to bash the city itself in any way but only to enlighten those readers out there that might be interested in the rich history stained in blood, violence, and drugs in a seemingly quiet, rural, relatively small city in Arkansas.

Fort Smith, Arkansas Map

Disclaimer on Content

This article from this point forward goes on to tell a few stories of true violent crimes that have happened in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I did not write about them to condone or endorse any such behavior but to provide a visceral real look at what dangers you may find in the town of Fort Smith, Arkansas. The sole purpose of this article is not to slam the city of Fort Smith but to provide the traveller with useful information regarding their own safety. I do not advocate violence against other human beings and I would never want anyone to get harmed by another person. That is why I have created this article, so those of you thinking about moving to Fort Smith are fully aware that the job market sucks and that there is a real sense of danger alive in Fort Smith. I grew up just south of Detroit and even I have trouble believing these facts about the things that go on in this city and fail to reach national headline news. Be warned that from this point forward some of the content may seem graphic and violent to some readers. Proceed at your own acknowledgement of this fact.

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Gregory Kinsey being taken into custody.Bobby Joe Burns from The Southwest Times right after his arrest.
Gregory Kinsey being taken into custody.
Gregory Kinsey being taken into custody.
Bobby Joe Burns from The Southwest Times right after his arrest.
Bobby Joe Burns from The Southwest Times right after his arrest.

4 Brutal Crimes in Fort Smith History

  1. Gregory Aaron Kinsey - June 26th, 2013 - Arrested for attacking 2 men
  2. Bobby Joe Burns - January 27th, 1958 - Declared mentally ill after attacking his mother.
  3. "Dora Doe" - October 24th 1994 - Dora Doe was found two miles south of Dora on the intersection of Interstate 40 and U.S. Highway 64D on Oct. 23, 1994. State crime lab officials are trying to set a date to exhume the body for DNA testing to link it to Ruth Henderson who was killed by Charles Ray Vines in 1995..
  4. Linda "Lindy" Reynolds - May 17th, 1982 - Lindy went missing in 1982. She was never found and is feared dead. The case has never been solved and if anyone has any information in this cold case please contact the Fort Smith Police Department at 479-709-5116.

The Story of Bobby Joe Burns

Gregory Kinsey Interview with Detectives

2010 Crime Statistic

Growing Crime Rates

This area not only has a growing population but has an ever growing crime rate along with it. The population growth seems to be more people that are not so savory of characters. History does repeat itself and perhaps Fort Smith is still a town for outlaws to take refuge in. Not many jobs have come to the area to make up for the population growth. It is like if you take a filing cabinet and put a few important papers in it, nice and organized, and then get in a hurry and fill it over the top with a bunch of junk mail and unwanted papers. There is a base of good people (the important papers) and for the most part they all work and are productive members of the area (the organization of those papers) but then you get a growth in people who have long criminal backgrounds, drug use, violent crimes, and they do not want/find work (the junk mail overflowing the filing cabinet). I hope that fragmented sentence explains my analogy a little bit better. There has been a very steady rise in the rate of rape cases throughout the city and a great rise in statistical numbers that does not go along with the population growth. The only thing that comes to mind is that maybe this town does not deserve the right to allow liquor licenses for bars to be open and serve alcohol until 5:00 A.M. I think the city needs to take a long hard look at the sad statistics and put up a fight against what contributing factors that could be causing these drastic changes. Getting rid of the 5:00 A.M. liquor licenses and putting more strict regulations on the bars that carry them currently is a good start. Just an increase in the police presence around town will not do the trick. The only thing more police in town will create is more paper usage and more traffic tickets. It is not the police that prevent the crimes. The way the city operates and controls the means to which the people can have available to them is what prevents crimes. Maybe the city should work less on putting money into the police force and work on getting all of the homeless off of the street and perhaps some city money should be allocated to start youth organizations to show kids growing up that they have a choice to do good or do bad, give them something positive to do in town. There are plenty enough empty buildings around town that the city could donate to the cause of either issue I have just stated. I highly doubt this will ever happen and I doubt the city will put any care into anything except getting more revenue in their own pockets. It is very obvious to me that what they are doing now to prevent crime is not working. Giving the police full reign of the city and allowing the police department to treat the locals as if they live in a police state IS NOT THE ANSWER. The answer lies at the core of the city, the people who pull the puppet strings must converge and have a change of heart and thought. The next step for them should be to cut back on the police presence and do more with community development to give the people of the area a fighting chance. A city that doesn't care about its people will be full of bad people. The people of the city can only be as good hearted as those that run the city itself. I see a severe lack in drug rehabilitation places around town so maybe instead of employing more police to bust drug offenders, put some money into opening counseling centers for the disadvantaged to get them off drugs and alcohol and turn them into productive members of society instead of turning the unfortunate population of the city into felons who will never have a chance to do anything with their lives. Stop taking hope from these people who already live in despair and give them the hope and love they need to become productive members of the local workforce and community. Remember, one good dead deserves another. The City of Fort Smith has a long road ahead if they want to turn this place around before it is too late. The ways that the city is viewed on the outside is solely dependent on what the officials of Fort Smith offer the residents of Fort Smith whether those residents have drug, alcohol, violence, anger, or any other problem. The city has the resources to fix these issues but they just rather make money off of the population and serve and cater to only the "savory" crowd in the city. Come on and get real. You have a huge crime problem on your hands Fort Smith. Act right, be right, and do the right thing to fix it.

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Comments 15 comments

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

I remember reading about Fort Smith in Larry McMurtry's novel Lonesome Dove. Even in the era in which that story is set it was a lively little place with a lot of shady characters riding on the river. Interesting hub!


j.brown profile image

j.brown 3 years ago from Fort Smith, Arkansas Author

The crime rate is going downhill very fast. Fort Smith has always had the stigma of being "The Hanging City", so I think all the bad karma and bad juju around the grounds that the city resides on has possibly cursed the town. Even that is a very cooky ideal for me to mention though. Haha. I am glad you thought this was an interesting hub! Thank you.


Tjones 3 years ago

It's funny how you hear about all the crimes in fort smith. Except for my father's murder. It still remains unsolved. George Williams died in 2006. And no justice was ever served


Michael Reddick 3 years ago

I've heard the bobby lee jones story since I was a kid it wasn't until I was in my later 20's that I discovers that video and learned that I had been living 2 blocks from his home.. Crazy!


Michael Reddick 3 years ago

I meant to say bobby joe burns, but autocorrect got me.. Lol!


j.brown profile image

j.brown 3 years ago from Fort Smith, Arkansas Author

I will look into this and bring some new light to this case. I am sick of this city sweeping everything under the rug like nothing happened. The HLN channel could have a headquarter office in Fort Smith and never be out of material for their shows. My word to you, this will be looked in to.


j.brown profile image

j.brown 3 years ago from Fort Smith, Arkansas Author

What is even crazier is that I live about 2 blocks away myself. lol


cseitz 3 years ago

I grew up in spiro,oklahoma and we always came to fort smith almost everyday as a child. As i grew up i got my first real job in fort smith but it was hard to get a job back then. No fort smith doesn't have much to offer. I lived there as an adult and i felt like i always had to watch my back and have my guard up, never felt like a place someone could call home. That's why i chose to move out of the area. I now live in a small town in ohio and live comfortably. I strongly urge any who is looking for a job and a place to settle down, not to pick fort smith. It to me has a ragged past and present.


j.brown profile image

j.brown 3 years ago from Fort Smith, Arkansas Author

Even more strange is that I am originally from Lima, Ohio and have plans to move back with my fiancé next summer. We are going to move to either Columbus or outside of Cleveland.

You are fully correct. Fort Smith puts on this entire facade to get people to move into the town but what the city does not offer are jobs, safety, or security in future. The more people the city bring in through marketing campaigns targeted at new home buyers, the more money the city itself generates and the less it cares about the actual residents of Fort Smith. Like I said in my article, the city uses the police department as "tough guys" to collect their money for them, just like some messed up southern mafia. I wish the national news and agencies that are over the heads of city officials would see this and MAKE the city change into less of a mafia-like police state area. Make the city put more money into developing jobs that EVERYONE can work. Jobs that are offered to felons because if this town can not offer the felons that it creates any jobs, then you have to deal with repeat offenders. The town takes all hope from the lower middle class and the unfortunate poor, and throws their hopes into the trash. The city approved a huge purchase of AR-15 assault rifles for the FSPD last year and it costs thousands of dollars. The FSPD really does not need them but the local media has the sheriff go on TV and tell the public that with these guns, they are more safe at home so that it is ok in public view to spend that much money on a police expense. It is ridiculous and really needs to end very soon. Hiring a bunch of cops and giving them high powered machine guns DO NOT make your city safe, Fort Smith. Putting all of that spent money into getting the felons OFF OF THE STREETS and into jobs, not jails, will help make your city more safe.


Barbara C 3 years ago

Fort Smith's local news is Ch. 5 news, and the top stories are

-Mobster “Whitey” Bulger Found Guilty on 31 Counts

-Car Riddled With Bullets In Springdale Apartment Shooting

-Two More Benton County Officials Arrested In Corruption Case

-LeFlore County Commissioners to Reduce Speed Limit on Some Roads

-Rodeo Clown Mocks Obama at Missouri State Fair

-Convenience Store Robbed In Springdale

None of those stories are about any crimes that happened in Fort Smith, much less even the same county (which is Sebastian Co.)

I am a resident in Van Buren just over the river from Fort Smith, and im not saying that Fort Smith doesn't have crimes, and I agree with you about the job situation but I don't agree that an article needed to be written about Fort Smith. It is really not that bad

Barbara Clemmons


j.brown profile image

j.brown 3 years ago from Fort Smith, Arkansas Author

Crime rate growth per capita in comparison...it is really that bad. Facts are facts. Hate my article if you want to but I didn't make ANY of this up.


Lucasifer 3 years ago

Eh, I was just happy we got a machete murder.


j.brown profile image

j.brown 3 years ago from Fort Smith, Arkansas Author

ha. This is part 1 to a 3 part series of articles about Fort Smith. I have more to say about some of whatever the positive aspects are.


b knox 2 years ago

If all that gets done is an article and no words are ever heard because we are to scared to stand up while felons are not heard even when we do speak then government and state will only continue to push us away from anything that could be good


Boo 9 months ago

Only if u knew the things go on now and nothing getting better its getting worse

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