The Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Conway man suspected of conspiring to rape a 13-year-old girl Wednesday morning.
Undercover sheriff’s deputies reached out to the 45-year-old suspect after locating an online ad seeking a younger female.
The Log Cabin Democrat was on scene as Tracey Wayne Clark, who manages the Big Lots on Oak Street, was taken into custody shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday, following an undercover investigation.
Deputies met hours before the sting to discuss alternate routes to take while conducting surveillance of Clark in the moments leading up to his arrest. The lead investigator noted the importance of keeping surveillance of the suspect’s home, who’s property line adjoins Ida Burns Elementary School.
"When we have circumstances like this, no matter how safe we think it’s going to be, we always prepare for the worst case scenario," Sheriff Tim Ryals said of the beforehand planning.
The lead investigator spoke with deputies prior to the stake out to give them background and other information relating to the case.
The lead investigator remained in contact with Clark via text throughout the investigation and into the moments leading up to his arrest.
During a Tuesday conversation with the undercover investigator, Clark arranged to meet who he thought was a man and a 13-year-old girl at a Conway hotel. He told the investigator he would bring poppers (a liquid inhaled to relax throat and anal muscles), sex toys and the silk band his wife uses to tie her robe. Clark also said he would bring $25 cash to split hotel room costs with the undercover investigator’s fake profile.
While surveillance was set up around Clark’s home, the lead investigator said the ideal arrest location was the Continental Inn on Harkrider Street.
"I want to arrest him at the Continental Inn. He [specifically] picked that place," he said, noting those details were important to the case.
Five undercover units were quick to block Clark’s tan Hyundai Elantra in the hotel’s parking lot when he arrived on scene.
Clark was immediately arrested and deputies inventoried his vehicle.
FCSO confiscated a cell phone, tablet, laptop, sex toys, $25 in cash as well as the silk band that Clark noted he would bring under the impression the 13 year old was interested in "rape role play." Police also found a "Central City Police Detective" badge, with badge No. 5936 imprinted on the bottom. Clark said the badge was a souvenir from the series "The Flash" that he liked to carry with him in his car.
Clark’s arrest marks the 22nd sex sting the sheriff’s office has conducted thus far this year and the second this week, following 44-year-old Jason Lindsey Short’s arrest earlier this week.
Ryals said the sting was unique because the suspect was a local resident residing next to an elementary school.
"A lot of our arrests are people that come in from all over the United States," he said. "But, as much as that’s happening, we have them right here in our homes. These people that do this kind of stuff don’t have a face. You can’t look at them and say: ‘This guy is a criminal.’"
Prior to Wednesday’s arrest, Clark did not have a criminal record.
"He didn’t even have any traffic violations," Ryals said.
As of press time Wednesday, a court date had not yet been set in Clark’s case. According to court records, he was being held without bond in the county jail.