A 59-year-old Crossett man was sentenced Thursday to 70 years in prison for the 2018 murder of Shannon Ridener of Ashley County.

Brian Russell was convicted of first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, and being a felon in possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime. He received a 40-year sentence for the murder, 20 years for felon in possession of a firearm and 10 years for abuse of a corpse. Circuit Judge Bynum Gibson ordered the sentenced to run consecutive.

Shannon Ridener

Shannon Ridener, 38, was reported missing on January 15, 2018. Her body was found on February 15, 2018 in Bradley County near Beech Creek, on U.S. 63, south of Hermitage. She had been shot in the head.

Ridener’s son told authorities that he last heard from his mother on January 13 when she told him via text message that she was going on a blind date in Louisiana. She didn’t return.

After Ridener went missing, investigators learned that Ridener may have been seen at a store in Louisiana on January 13, the day she went missing. The store’s surveillance footage show both Ridener and a male in the store. They left the store got into a car and headed toward Crossett.

Russell, who was identified as the driver of the car, was arrested on January 14 for DWI in Monticello. During the Monticello traffic stop, officers saw what they believed to be blood on Russell’s hand. He told authorities that it was blood stains from a deer that he cleaned earlier that night. He was arrested and taken to jail in Monticello and later transferred to El Dorado for a parole violation out of Union County.

On January 18, several people riding ATVs around the Moro Bay Bridge area contacted authorities when they discovered a purse that belonged to Ridener.

On February 15, a month after Ridener was reported missing, an off-duty Arkansas Game & Fish officer found her body near Beech Creek.

During a search of Russell’s residence, authorities found a firearm that matched the bullet recovered Ridener’s head, as well as blood stains and Ridener’s phone. DNA testing determined that the blood was a match for Ridener.

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