Arkansas Realtor Vanishes After Showing a Home; Person of Interest Arrested

Arkansas Realtor Vanishes After Showing a Home; Person of Interest Arrested
Beverly Carter
Pulaski County Sheriff's Office

09/29/2014 AT 04:15 PM EDT

Beverly Carter had just one more thing to do on Thursday evening.

The 49-year-old realtor from Scott, Arkanasas, called her husband, Carl Carter Sr. at 5:30 p.m. and told him that she was going to show a foreclosed property to an interested buyer.

"It was a very normal occurrence for her to call home," her son, Carl Carter Jr., tells PEOPLE. "She told my father where she would be; she always does that as a safety precaution. As a realtor, she knows that people need to know where she is at any time. At the end of the call, she told my father, 'I'm going to bring dinner home for both of us.' "

But Carter didn't come home. At 8:30 p.m., her husband called her son. "He was getting worried," says Carl Jr. "I told him that things were probably fine, that she was probably just writing a contract or something. We decided that I'd go check her office, and he could go to the property that she had been showing."

When Carl Sr. arrived at the property, he found a troubling sight: his wife's brown 2014 Cadillac SRX sat in the driveway, its doors unlocked. On the passenger seat: Carter's purse and wallet. The front door to the property was unlocked, but Carter was nowhere to be found.

"We knew something was really wrong," says Carl Carter Jr. "My mother is not the type to disappear. She's happy with her life."

Mysterious Text Messages

About 1 a.m. on Friday morning – six hours after Carter was last seen – her husband received three text messages in quick succession from her phone. The text messages, obtained by PEOPLE, were another red flag for the family.

The first text message simply read, "Yes," presumably in response to an earlier text from her husband asking if she was okay. The second read, "Sorry phone been dead." The third text message read, "Having drinks right now."

"My mother was not the type to hit happy hour or have drinks with friends," says Carter Jr. "She might have one or two drinks per year. I don't believe that my mother sent those texts. It's very cruel."

A Person of Interest

As police have investigated the case, they have ruled out the possibility that Beverly Carter simply walked away from her life. "This is an ongoing criminal investigation," Pulaski County Sheriff's Lieutenant Carl Minden tells PEOPLE. "We're trying to figure out exactly what happened to her."

On Sunday night, an arrest warrant was issued for Arron Lewis, a 33-year-old who police call a "person of interest" in the disappearance. Police would not specify what evidence they had to tie Lewis to the case. He had been involved in a single-vehicle accident and was treated at a local hospital for facial injuries. Before the arrest warrant was issued, he walked out of the hospital. "He was not under the guard of law enforcement at that time, due to not having criminal charges at that point," Lt. Minden told reporters.

On Monday, Lewis was caught by police in Little Rock. He faces kidnapping charges. "Depending on when we discover Mrs. Carter and her condition, those charges could change," Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay told reporters. "I'm hopeful she's still alive."

A Community-Wide Search

Even with a suspect in custody, Carter's friends and family are organizing candlelight vigils and ground searches. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Office requested that large land owners and farmers search their properties for any sign of the missing woman. Helicopters have canvassed the area as well. "It's a vast amount of acreage," Lt. Carl Minden told reporters. "There's a lot of farmland, swamp. There's a lot of waterways."

Beverly Carter is 5'2" tall and weighs 145 lbs., with green eyes and blonde hair that she has recently begun wearing straight. Anyone with information about Carter's whereabouts should contact the Sheriff's Office at (501) 340-6600. The family has created a Facebook Page with the latest information.

Those closest to Carter say they want answers. "We're holding out hope," says Carl Carter Jr. "I just want my mother to come home."

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