Teamwork among agencies shines through following murder suspect arrest

After approximately one month of searching for a murder suspect accused of killing an Ames woman, authorities have made an arrest thanks to the teamwork between multiple groups of officers.

According to an Ames Police Department press release, authorities in Des Moines picked up 33-year-old Richard G. Fleck on Sunday and turned him over to Ames PD. Fleck is now being held in the Story County Jail in Nevada.

A Des Moines Police Department press release stated that its department was notified early Sunday morning of an assault on a female in the 2500 block of Garfield Avenue in Des Moines. An ensuing investigation found that the female had been brutally beaten by the suspect, who was thereafter chased from the home by an eyewitness. The witness who chased the suspect, later identified as Sims, was also assaulted. Neighbors in the area intervened, and Sims managed to flee the scene.

DMPD officers were able to establish a perimeter and unleash a K-9 search. Sims was found trying to hide in a tree. He was reportedly apprehended without further incident. One of the two assault victims escaped the incident without injury; the other victim is currently hospitalized and faces serious injuries.

Richard G. Fleck is now in jail facing a charge of First-Degree Murder. (Photo: Story County Jail)

The arrest comes after investigators from a number of agencies had been searching for the man believed to have killed a Story County woman in her own apartment last month.

On February 20, a welfare check was conducted at a 407 South 5th Street apartment in Ames, where a deceased 37-year-old female was found. She was later identified as 37-year-old Ranea K. Bell of Ames.

The welfare check reportedly was called after the Kansas City Police Department received a 911 call indicating that a man had been seen stuffing a drainpipe with a garbage bag. According to the KCPD, the two officers who responded to the call looked inside the bag and “found evidence of a possible violent crime, as well as someone’s personal effects.”

A release stated that the two Kansas City officers “took extensive time interviewing the witnesses who saw the man put it there.” Despite the fact that the contents of the bag did not contain the victim’s name or address, the officers were able to connect them to Bell, at which point Ames PD was notified and the welfare check was made. The two Kansas City officers who responded to the call were honored by their department on March 10 for their “going above and beyond” in responding to the trash bag call.

Following the discovery of Bell’s body in Ames, police began “canvassing the area and processing the crime scene.” According to Ames Police Commander Jason Tuttle, Bell’s death appeared to be caused by blunt force trauma.

Police were later able to identify and begin searching for 33-year-old Richard G. Fleck, also known as “Rashaud Sims”, for his alleged involvement in Bell’s death.

Now that Fleck is in custody, there seems to be a sense of relief across the board from those who had been working hard on the case. Still, Tuttle made it clear on Monday that the investigation is far from over. “We are still trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together,” he explained. “We interviewed him the other night when we arrested him and took some evidence, which will be processed. We want to try and figure out where he was these last three weeks or so. We want to determine if anyone was helping to conceal him.”

The fact that Fleck was found so close to Story County, where the original crime took place, was a bit surprising to Tuttle and his department. “We knew he had some contacts in [Des Moines],” Tuttle confirmed. “But we figured he was probably out of the state. We had some contacts across the Midwest looking for him in different locations.”

Regardless, Fleck is now behind bars. He faces one charge of First-Degree Murder, which is classified as a class “A” felony. It is currently unclear what additional charges stemming from the pair of Sunday assaults Fleck may end up facing. He is being held on a $1,000,000 bond.

Anyone with further information regarding the ongoing investigation is encouraged to call Ames PD. “If anyone has seen him over the last three weeks, we would like to talk to them,” Tuttle concluded. Ames PD can be reached at 515-239-5133. You can also anonymously report information by calling 515-239-5533.

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