Clary Elementary, located at 119 East Superior Street, has been vacant for many years. The 8.5-acre property was purchased by the City of Stuttgart Water Department in 2014.
Then, Tommy Lawson, the water and sewer department director, stated the water department had no plans of keeping the building but the council requested the building be kept for the community according to a Stuttgart Daily Leader article from September 2, 2014.
Lawson said the property was purchased for the possibility of building a new water treatment plant in the future.
Vacant buildings entice people to trespass and live in vacant and dilapidated structures.
On October 10, 2019, SPD Ptl. Kyle Stokes was asked to do a walkthrough of the property, finding evidence of forced entry on the west-facing window on the northern part of the building that was previously boarded up.
Stokes entered the building checking the rooms as he traveled east down the hallway. Stokes heard noises coming from the boy’s restroom on the north side of the hallway.
He entered the restroom to find a 37-year-old white male covered in sweat, identified as Jason Graves. There were multiple hand tools within his reach, a knife on the floor near his feet and a camouflage jacket in the sink.
A box was also found filled with multiple pipe fittings. A urinal had been removed from the wall and the piping had been removed from the sinks.
Graves was detained and escorted outside where he was placed under arrest. SPD C.I.D. was called to the scene.
Detective Jeremiah Richard took over the investigation while Graves was transported to the Arkansas County Detention Center for the felony charge of Commercial Burglary.