In a long-awaited development, a 48-year-old man, already serving a life sentence for capital murder, has pleaded guilty to the 1991 murder of 19-year-old Sabrina Underwood in Boone County, Arkansas. The announcement was made by the Arkansas State Police on Tuesday, marking the end of a 32-year-old cold case that left Underwood’s family in anguish.
Sabrina Underwood’s disappearance in 1991 sparked a missing person’s investigation after she failed to reach her boyfriend, a prison inmate, following her plans to hitchhike to visit him. Three months later, hunters discovered a bundle of clothes and human remains, later identified as Underwood’s. The case remained unsolved for over three decades until an inmate, serving time alongside Rick Allen Headley, revealed that Headley had confessed to the crime in a letter while already incarcerated for capital murder.
Headley, who had previously pleaded guilty to stabbing his estranged wife to death, provided investigators with details about Underwood’s murder during an interview, confirming that he had indeed written the letter. Headley claimed that Underwood had attempted to extort money from him. The Arkansas State Police charged Headley with first-degree murder in October 2023. On Monday, he pleaded guilty to the charge and received a 40-year prison sentence.
The breakthrough in the case brought relief to Underwood’s family, who had endured decades of uncertainty and pain. An Arkansas State Police spokesperson mentioned that the family was “very happy” that the cold case had finally been solved. Colonel Mike Hagar, the ASP Colonel, expressed sympathy for the family in a news release, stating, “We will never give up on finding justice for families like the Underwoods, who still suffer the pain of Sabrina’s absence. Today, we pray for peace for those who remember and love Sabrina.”
The resolution of this cold case underscores the relentless efforts of law enforcement agencies and their commitment to bringing closure to families affected by unsolved crimes. The plea deal and sentencing of Rick Allen Headley serve as a reminder that justice may be delayed, but it is not forgotten.
In conclusion, the guilty plea in the Sabrina Underwood case is a significant step towards justice, offering solace to her family after more than three decades of uncertainty. The diligent work of the Arkansas State Police highlights the importance of persistence in solving cold cases, providing closure to grieving families.