DEVELOPING: As details emerge, Ames murder case suspect still at-large

A 37-year-old woman was found dead inside an Ames apartment Saturday evening. Now, authorities in multiple states are searching for a suspect they believe was responsible for her death.

According to Ames Police Commander Jason Tuttle, a welfare check was conducted at a 407 South 5th Street apartment at 7:02 p.m. Saturday evening. She has since been identified as 37-year-old Ranea K. Bell of Ames. “[Kansas City Police Department] had found some items down in Kansas City that they believed belonged to Ms. Bell,” Tuttle explained. “Based on some of the other items that were in a bag, they found it very suspicious. They called us to ask us to go to her residence to do a welfare check. Once we did that, we were able to go inside her apartment, and we found her deceased.”

Following discovery of the body, Ames PD announced that investigators were already “canvassing the area and processing the crime scene.” Authorities were led to believe that the circumstances surrounding the death were suspicious. According to Tuttle, Bell’s death appeared to be caused by blunt force trauma.

Per an Ames PD press release, authorities, including the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, were able to identify a suspect in the case. Police are currently searching for 33-year-old Richard G. Fleck, also known as “Rashaud Sims”, who has now been charged with First-Degree Murder. “We knew that he had been staying with [the victim],” Tuttle said. “Based on information we found there, and based on some other interviews we did and other tips that we received throughout the weekend, we were able to formulate enough probable cause to charge him with [First-Degree] Murder. That took us awhile to get to that point.”

Fleck’s whereabouts are currently unknown. He is thought to stand at approximately 5’08” and weigh 165 pounds. Fleck is a black male with brown eyes and black hair. He reportedly has tattoos on his hands and neck.

Authorities are searching for 33-year-old Richard Fleck (a.k.a. “Rashaud Sims”), who faces a First-Degree Murder charge after an Ames woman was found dead. (Photo: Ames PD)

Authorities have identified ties that Fleck has to the Kansas City, Missouri area; however, he has also been linked to separate communities in Texas and Mississippi. “The last that we knew, we believe he was somewhere in Kansas City sometime on Saturday,” Tuttle noted. “We know he has some family down in that area. But at this point, we are not sure of his location. He knows we are looking for him, so he is likely on the run at this point. We think he has ties to many other places, but we think he will continue to keep a low profile for awhile.”

Fleck currently faces one charge of First-Degree Murder, which is classified as a class “A” felony.

Anyone with information pertaining to Fleck’s whereabouts is encouraged to call Ames PD at 515-239-5133. You can also anonymously report information by calling 515-239-5533. If you see Fleck, authorities want you to call 911 immediately.

This is a developing story. StoryCounty.News will provide more information as it becomes available.

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