- Associated Press - Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Arkansas man suspected of killing his parents and abducting his 12-year-old sister had claimed to be mentally ill or deficient in 2007 before he eventually pleaded guilty to assaulting a female relative or household member.

Antonio Whitlow, 33, was arrested Saturday in Memphis, Tenn., hours after his parents were found slain in their home in Little Rock, about 135 miles away. His sister was with him and seemed unharmed, Little Rock Police Sgt. Cassandra Davis said Sunday.

“Physically she has not been harmed. Mentally, (she’s doing) as well as a 12-year-old could do. I don’t know that she fully understands what happened,” Sgt. Davis told the Associated Press.

The girl is now in the custody of the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Sgt. Davis declined to say whether investigators believe the child witnessed the killing of her 65-year-old parents, Bobby and Annette Whitlow. She said she didn’t know whether the girl and her brother, who was much older, ever lived with their parents at the same time.

Investigators, in a police report, listed a knife or some other sharp object as the weapon used to kill the couple. Sgt. Davis said detectives hadn’t determined a motive for the slayings.

Police said the couple was killed between noon and 3 p.m. Saturday, when officers were called to the home by a church member who had gone to the victims’ home to meet the elder Mr. Whitlow and saw Mrs. Whitlow lying on the living room floor by a fireplace. Officers found Mr. Whitlow dead in the kitchen.

An Amber Alert was issued for the girl and police in Memphis found the younger Mr. Whitlow and his sister walking along Beale Street, in the city’s tourism district, at about 10 p.m. Saturday, according to Memphis Police Sgt. Alyssa Macon-Moore.

In the 2007 case, Mr. Whitlow initially pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or deficiency to aggravated assault of a family or household member. Pulaski County Circuit Court’s online records don’t specify the nature of the purported mental illness or deficiency, or the nature of the assault. They do name his female victim, and her relationship to him was not immediately clear, it wasn’t his mother or sister.

After a psychiatric evaluation deemed Mr. Whitlow fit to stand trial, he changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to five years’ probation, which would have expired in October.

“It would surprise me, I’ll just say that,” said Patrick Benca, Mr. Whitlow’s attorney in that case, when asked whether he thought his former client had killed his parents. The lawyer, who wasn’t in contact with Mr. Whitlow, said he didn’t remember the nature of the purported psychiatric problem.

Mr. Whitlow remained in custody in Memphis, pending extradition, Sgt. Davis said.

“We’ll have to first start the (extradition) process on Monday,” she said.

The process could take two or three days if he does not fight extradition, weeks if he does, Sgt. Davis said.

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