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WAYNESVILLE, MO – It’s been almost five years since I first reported on 9-year-old Rowan Ford. At the time, she was just a missing girl from Missouri whose stepfather was not being cooperative with police. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would take five years for the case to be resolved, and the details of what happened to that little girl would end up haunting me to this day.

Three days after I posted that article in 2007, Rowan’s battered body was located in a sinkhole where she had been dumped after having been raped and strangled to death. The day after, police would arrest Rowan’s stepfather David Spears (who had previously been on the news pleading for her safe return) and his friend Chris Collings. Police would charge them both with Rowan’s rape and murder after Collings admitted to acting alone in abducting, raping, and strangling Rowan, while Spears confessed to participating in the rape of Rowan and being the one who strangled her to death.

A year later, these two men still had not stood trial, and Impqueen wrote a great summary of everything we knew about the case up until then. I highly recommend you check it out if you’re unfamiliar with this case–it has a lot of details I’m not going over here.

Three years later, we posted why we hadn’t been providing updates on Rowan’s murder and the men accused of killing her: there simply weren’t any updates aside from trial delays.

Then, Chris Collings’s trial was supposed to start in April 2011…but a judge declared a mistrial because the prosecution and defense were unable to come up with a jury. It would take another year before Collings would face a jury and subsequently be found guilty of Rowan’s rape and murder.

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During the trial, it was revealed that Collings admitted to taking the sleeping fourth grader from her bed and then transporting her to his trailer. Once there, he raped Rowan “missionary style” before taking her outside and wrapping a cord around her neck. He said he held it tight until “she flopped around until she died.” He then put her body in the bed of his pickup truck, drove to the Fox Cave sinkhole, and tossed her in like trash. In March of this year, Collings was sentenced to death.

Now, just weeks before Spears’s trial was to begin, he pleaded guilty to reduced charges of endangering the welfare of a child and hindering prosecution. These charges stemmed from Spears (a) leaving Rowan at home alone on the night she was murdered and (b) because he tried to get a friend to lie about why he left her alone. The forcible rape, statutory rape, and 1st degree murder charges were dismissed by the State. In exchange for his plea, Spears will serve a total of 11 years in prison; the Department of Corrections will determine if Spears will be credited for time served.

A lot of people, including myself, are not happy with this. But here’s why it happened. First, there is no physical evidence, including DNA, linking Spears to Rowan’s rape and murder like there was with Collings. Also, and more importantly, Collings consistently admitted to acting alone and stated Spears had nothing to do with it; he was found guilty and sentenced to death based on his description of events, and the State presented his description of Rowan’s rape and murder as a true account. Had they pursued Spears with the same charges, the State would have had to argue that both versions of events were true, even if they both cannot be.

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Such a strategy is forbidden in Missouri and Federal appellate courts because it leads to convictions being overturned as a violation of a defendant’s due process. Had the State gotten Spears convicted of rape and murder, it would’ve done so based on his confession, which was inconsistent with the confession made by Collings–the man they just sentenced to death for the same crimes. This would have opened up the opportunity for Spears to have his conviction overturned, as well as Collings. So that’s that.

I rarely jump on the pitchfork bandwagon on DD because, honestly, I’ve become horribly cynical and apathetic. But something about this case still grinds my gears. Thinking of Rowan, who had already lived a rough life in her 9 years, standing outside Spears’s trailer in the middle of the night naked and bleeding from a vicious rape, listening to the goats in the yard bleating while her “Uncle Chris” strangled her to death…man, five years after and I still get pissed thinking of the terror she experienced.

But you never know–justice may still pay Spears a visit, just not in a way anyone expects.

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  • RachelAnnPrince

    He could always choke on a chicken bone…. Or get shanked. I’m always hoping karma has its way in the end.

  • I get why their hands are tied here, but fuck that’s shitty. I hope he never gets a moments peace and this follows him every waking moment of the hopefully brief duration of his life.

  • EveryVillainIsLemons

    I hope that the fucking fatass keels over and dies while he’s in jail.

    And he’d better hope he dies in jail. There are plenty of people in Missouri who haven’t forgotten his role in Rowan Ford’s brutal rape and murder…and they’ll be waiting for him.

  • Guest

    This dude is

  • Sam

    The only way i can feel good about this, is if he serves it in GP.

  • Sean Cudahy

    Spears will eventually pay the price.

  • One can only hope.

  • Agreed. It sucks balls, but it’s all they could do under the law. It’s one of the cases in which laws set up to protect people in the courtroom ended up biting them in the ass.

  • Billy

    Calling all Christians – please tell me where your merficul fucking God was while this girl was being raped and strangled to death.

  • Transducer

    The Mormon God could have been working that day.

  • warbonds

    Hope he gets a shank up his ass in prison, thats a start. piece of shit !!

  • Speaking as an Atheist, I’m pretty sure not all Christians believe their God steps in whenever bad things happen.

  • Coyote

    I know you’re not a big fan of vigilante justice, but how
    can you not wish it on this cocksucker?

  • EveryVillainIsLemons

    He was helping the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers.

  • whoopsidaisies

    Let him serve his time and come out, the whole world knows his name.

  • It’s pretty shitty for someone to use the horrific death of a little girl to try to stick it to Christians.

  • There’s a big difference between wishing someone dead, and encouraging vigilantism. I will shed no tears if Spears is murdered by a vigilante, and would even by the vigilante a beer — as long as that vigilante is in prison for murder.

    The only thing that scares me more than a murderer who zipped through a loophole in the laws set up to protect us, is a society that celebrates Honey Boo Boo, listens to Top 40, and worships a supernatural zombie carpenter who committed suicide so we can live forever… being able to hand out their form of justice on whomever they feel didn’t get the punishment they deserved in a court of law.

    Now if everyone was as smart as me, then I would have a totally different outlook on the subject.

  • Billy

    Never said they did. But the Christian’s believe that God is merciful. I’d like to know how a merficul God sits idle while a little girls is brutally raped and murdered. That’s mercy?

  • This is where they need to bring back the punishments of the olden days and stone this motherfucker to death.

  • Then I would suggest you visit a church and ask a priest, but you don’t really want answers anyway, you want a flame war :3

  • Transducer

    Better yet, read a dictionary to understand what the word mercy means and then realize it has nothing to do with innocent people being harmed.

  • Transducer

    The people eligible for the Christian God’s mercy in this story are the sick fucks who committed the crimes. Mercy is forgiveness.

  • Athena

    Actually, any Christian that has read the Old Testament knows that, for every bit as merciful as He is, He is also a violent, jealous, spiteful SOB, too. I mean, he killed thousands of innocent first-born children.

  • Athena

    Well, Aaron Rodgers is the devil, so it was only appropriate.

  • Again, speaking from an Atheist point of view, I do not think you grasp what mercy means when talking about the Christian God. As Transducer stated, God’s mercy has nothing to do with what you were probably meaning, and that is the age-old question of “why does God let bad things happen to good people?”

    Of course the right answer is “because he doesn’t exist,” but from a Christian standpoint, God allows bad people to do bad things because of the way humans choose to live when given free will.

    We once had it good, but some chick couldn’t follow directions and as a result, the paradise we inherited turned into a world of pain, death and destruction. We are largely stupid, evil monkeys — according to Christians — so despite the fact that disobeying God has given us nothing but bad things in the past, we continue to live our lives against God’s wishes while crying foul over his letting a 9-year-old girl be gang-raped and strangled to death.

    Of course this will be rectified in due time, when the righteous few among us who have lived their lives in accordance to God’s wishes will ultimately enjoy various forms of paradise for all eternity, while us spoiled apples spend our days roasting over an open fire.

    At least, that’s the way I have always interpreted it.

  • CT

    I was busy helping a few priests get to their boyscout leader meetings.

  • HotReadingMama

    Man. That just ruined my afternoon.

  • HotReadingMama

    What’s wrong with watching Honey Boo Boo you jerk?

  • come_and_see

    I would of thought the guy on death row would of cracked by now and ratted out his accomplice because I mean, he’s on death row while he’s getting a slap on the hand.

  • NoSkeletonsNGlassHouses

    Don’t forget misogynist. The OT states rapists should marry their victims and women are property to be bought, sold and dominated. Oh, and hypocrite. He’s OK with slavery as long as the slaves are from a different country than their owners. *Sigh* So many nouns, so little time…

  • JGo555

    Someone, something out there must make this girl take revenge upon her killers and torturers from beyond the grave.

  • JGo555

    God was watching an asshole choose the wrong action and receiving the little angel early.

  • Not being able to throw peanuts at them?

  • HotReadingMama

    @facebook-736546181:disqus Hardy har

  • Honey Boo Boo’s parents should be incarcerated for child abuse. That’s what’s wrong with them.

  • HotReadingMama

    Oh give me a break. Being white trash and fat isn’t illegal I am pretty sure. I will stop hijacking this thread with Honey Boo though…only because it is so sad.

  • Nothing, nothing at all. Just seeing if you are reading. 😛

  • sweekymom

    If Rowan Ford were my niece, David Spears’ body would never be found.

    As ugly as vigilante justice is, it is, in this case, the only measure of justice this poor, suffering child is ever going to get.

  • LadyLeopard

    Hm, personally, given the horrible state of the world vs the view of reality religions usually promote, I prefer the idea that what we have been calling god as a result of monotheistic religions is actually an Evil Magician who wants his flock of sheep complacent while he harvests his flesh and skins. The real God is something else entirely.

    And on that note, I hope Spears gets harvested soon and in a suitably horrible manner to reflect his vile nature.

  • No but soliciting your child and fucking with them mentally is….which even though I haven’t watched the show I have heard what its about and seen clips. Not to mention the fact that the MOTHER of this family is currently being investigated FOR child abuse. Yet again my stance is they should be incarcerated for child abuse.

  • HotReadingMama

    You’re an ass.

  • Ninja0980

    Have to agree with Morbid. If someone takes out Mr.Spears,I’ll give him/her a handshake..and hope he takes care of him/herself in prison and is a productive system when he/she gets out.
    As much as I think people like this guy is scum of the earth and I hate seeing sex offenders and others often not getting much prison time as they should,I can never condone vigilante justice.
    That is a road we don’t want to go down. It might start with scumbags like Mr.Spears but it won’t stop there.

  • Why thank you….I will take that as a compliment. I’m more fond of bitch or bringer of truths but ass is good too.

    P.s. Next time don’t come to a battle of wits if you are unarmed.

  • HotReadingMama

    LOL! That was you battling? With your wits? Jesus. You certainly showed me!

  • Sigh….It was a joke, not a dick. So I have to ask. Do you always have this much sand in your vagina?

  • HotReadingMama

    Yes. You must be new.

  • LeaveMeBe

    ROTFLMFAO! I didn’t want this to end.

  • LeaveMeBe

    Uh-hum. “We once had it good, but some chick couldn’t follow directions…” Why did you leave out “and the dude who thought with the wrong head”?
    Otherwise, spot on.

  • HotReadingMama

    Honestly the only reason I called her an ass is because she CAPITALIZED certain WORDS to make herself seem SMARTER. That pissed me off. I hate people. Please everyone, go look up the abuse accusation.

  • LeaveMeBe

    She deserved it. And is THAT why people do THAT? I’m going to have to remember that so I can appear smarticle. Haha!

    OMG, you made my night with this thread HRM. Seriously. You don’t post on the FP a lot, but when you do you make an impact. 🙂

  • HotReadingMama

    I <3 you LMB. I am sorry this happened on this story though, Rowan's death literally made me sick to my stomach. The fact that this fucker plead down is a disgrace.

  • Capitalizing words in sentences is usually to stress the importance of that word. Sorry for pissing in your Wheaties. I wasn’t attempting to appear more intelligent but prove a point. Although, I must point out your grammar does suck. Thanks and bless your heart, dear.

  • No, “most” people do it to stress the importance of the word (such as the effects of putting the word in bold), see this time I put most in quotations so I didn’t hurt feelings. I deserved what? Being called a name on the internet….haha omfg, you have irreparably damaged my one feeling I think I might cry now.

    I love internet gangsters who resort to calling names because they have nothing better. You all have made my morning showing that the imbecile squads are alive and well in the world. Thanks for further degrading my faith in humanity.

  • I lived in Joplin (just north of Stella) when this happened. I remember everyone (including me) immediately concluding the step-father had killed her…possibly by accident…and buried the body. We couldn’t have predicted how awful the truth was. I’m familiar with the area where they found the little girl’s body. If Spears hadn’t told his friend (a county coroner he used to work for) where the body was, they may not have found her for months, if ever. That deep part of the Ozarks is so riddled with caves, hollows, sinks and pits that you could hide a thousand bodies in there and no one would ever know.

    I met Rowan’s mother about a year after the case broke. I didn’t realize who she was at the time. I was working as an investigator for the State Department of Health and she was someone I needed to interview as a witness. It’s better that I didn’t know, because I might have been overcome with sympathy for her terrible loss and while I’m sure she would have been touched by it, I doubt she needs to be reminded every day of what she and her little girl have suffered.

    As far as I’m concerned, Spears should be charged as an accomplice to rape and murder. He helped his friend cover up a heinous crime and knowing Missouri law, that means he’s culpable in them both.

  • LeaveMeBe

    LOL! And it just keeps going and going and going. I just got tickled over the exchange and you have your panties in a bunch over total strangers remarking on your comments. If your that sensitive, maybe you should rethink being on interactive sites on the internet. 🙂

  • LeaveMeBe

    I think that may be why I got so into y’all’s exchange, it distracted me from what I has read. I almost didn’t read this story because I knew I would get upset all over again but I did it any way because Rowan is one of those stories that won’t leave my head or my heart. :'(

  • o.0 I’m sensitive? Ok….sure. On that note I’m out. For the record, I have nothing in a bunch. Have a nice day sweets!

  • That’s partially why I had the exchange is because I hate this story, it’s horrible this sick bastard literally is getting away with murder.

  • TraumaNurse85

    Hold up…He raped this poor child, correct? There was physical evidence that proved he did, according to what I am reading.

    So, OK, from a legal standpoint I suppose I can concede that the murder charges had to be dropped, but why the fuck is he not facing charges for forcible rape? In Missouri, he could face a life sentence on that charge alone.


  • Devonna

    This is so sad it made me cry I cannot believe some people and I wish fervently that justice in some way vigilante or otherwise is done for this beautiful little girl sometimes I really think that this country does not care about the kids I just do not understand why pedophiles and rapists are let out of prison at all when they are going to offend again why take the chance I don’t understand there is no cure for this sickness or brain damage so why even give them an opportunity to do it I just feel so bad about this it should not be happening and those involved in any way should be severely punished.

  • 5 years later and this little girl still haunts me. Just seeing her face makes my heart ache.

    And FU Morbid, I love me some honey boo boo!

  • onlyme356

    So was the reason that Collins covered for Stevens in the hopes that his case would be overturned? And what evidence was there that Stevens was not around when this happened? Where was he at supposedly? This double-story loophole makes me sick. This poor, poor child. Where in the world was her mother? Why wasn’t she being protected by anyone? This child deserved to be happy and live a great life…it’s just so horribly unfair and sick.

  • EveryVillainIsLemons

    Her mother was working at Wal-Mart overnight, if I remember correctly.

  • Troublenblonde1

    Very Well stated.

  • Sam A.

    I know this is a really old thread ( I have just recently read up on this case ) and I probably won’t get a reply, but was just curious why people are still convinced David Spears participated in the rape and murder. Perhaps I have missed something?