The Reporter covers Miller, Morgan and Camden County in Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks and is published once per week on Wednesdays.
Published October 5, 2022
Man charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident
LACLEDE COUNTY - Robert Eugene Nyman, 39, of Camdenton, MO, has been charged by the Laclede County Prosecutor’s Office with Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident that resulted in the death Hope L. Arnold.
In addition, Nyman had five probation warrants issued by the court.
According to the Laclede County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) this is what happened:
On September 9, 2022 at approximately 3:42 p.m., two 911 calls were received by Laclede County 911-Emergency Dispatch regarding a rollover motor vehicle crash in the 33000 block of Route 66.
The callers stated a man had exited the driver’s side of the wrecked vehicle and picked up a bleeding female off the roadway and placed her inside a white Chevrolet truck. One caller was able to get a license plate number off the truck and left the scene.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Troopers arrived to conduct the crash investigation and found a fire engulfed black Pontiac passenger car. There were no occupants in the vehicle or around the vehicle.
The Pontiac was registered to a Donivan Ruben Knapp who died in August of 2022.
During the follow-up investigation by members of the Highway Patrol they were not able to identify the driver of the Pontiac, the passenger of the Pontiac, nor did they make contact with the driver of the Chevrolet truck.
On September 26, 2022 at approximately 7:30 a.m., a call was received by Laclede County Dispatch stating there was a human arm lying in the driveway in 33000 block of Route 66.
Deputies responded and collected the arm and after a thorough search of the area they located the body of a deceased female in the ditch near the above address. The body was in an advanced state of decomposition.
The deceased was lying on her back with her feet facing down the steep embankment and partially concealed by the trees and vegetation. The body was more than 100 feet from the September 9 crash site.
Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office processed the area around the original crash site and the location of the found body. At the crash site, multiple personal documents belonging to Hope Laree Arnold were found.
The items included a Department of Corrections photo ID and mail for Hope Laree Arnold.
The documents reveal Hope had been incarcerated in the prison at Chillicothe, Missouri and released on the morning of September 9, 2022.
The documents at the crash site revealed that Hope took a Greyhound Bus from the Kansas City, Missouri area to Springfield, Missouri. She arrived in Springfield at 8:55 a.m. on September 9.
At the crash scene investigators found several hand written letters from Donivan Ruben Knapp to Hope Arnold. The letters were written by Knapp while Hope was in prison.
The letters indicated Hope and Knapp were in a romantic relationship prior to his death in August of this year.
The autopsy of the female was conducted at Southwest Forensics in Ozark, Missouri the afternoon after her body was discovered. The preliminary autopsy revealed multiple fractures in the neck vertebrae.
In addition, there were multiple skull fractures at the base of the skull where the spinal cord attaches. The skull area around her right ear was crushed.
The pathologist stated the fractures to her skull and neck were consistent with a violent motor vehicle crash and were the cause of her death. The pathologist stated the injuries would have caused death.
Investigators found surveillance video at the Eagle Stop Convenience store located on Route 66 just west of the crash site. Investigators reviewed the video of September 9 and at 3:21 p.m., Robert Eugene Nyman arrived at the convenience store. Nyman was driving a black Pontiac passenger car.
Nyman was the step-son of Ruben Knapp the registered owner of the vehicle. The female passenger was Hope Laree Arnold.
The LCSO said Nyman purchased alcoholic beverages while inside the convenience store and then exited the store and returned to the Pontiac. On video he can be seen drinking from one of the cans of alcohol.
The surveillance camera then records a male and female arrive at the store in a white Chevrolet truck. The truck license plate on video matched the license plate of the white truck leaving with Nyman and an injured female.
At 3:36 p.m., the Pontiac and the Chevrolet truck pull on to Route 66 and head east. Nyman is the driver of the black Pontiac with Arnold in the front passenger seat. The white pickup follows Nyman’s car.
The first 911 call regarding the crash is recorded by Laclede County Dispatch at 3:42 p.m.
Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office located the white truck and the male and female occupants on September 29, 2022. They told investigators they took Nyman and injured Hope Arnold to an address in Pulaski County.
The Missouri Highway Patrol Fatality Crash team is assisting in the investigation.
“We are still working the case and other charges are possible and we believe others assisted in the dumping of Hope’s body in an effort to conceal Nyman’s involvement in the crash,” said LCSO Sheriff David Millsap.
Nyman has 11 felony convictions and was on probation at the time of this incident. Nyman is in the Laclede County Jail.
He had no bond on the probation warrants and a $25,000 bond on the Leaving the Scene of An Accident charge.
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