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Bruce Lee Cockrell charged with Capital Murder and Arson

By Dale Gathright, Jr., 07/10/24 4:03 PM

HOPE – Bruce Lee Cockrell, 47, with a Hope address, has now been charged with Capital Murder and Arson after the victim of a July 8th incident succumbed to her injuries.

Monday night, July 8th at approximately 8:41 pm, Deputy Kyle Malone and Sergeant Derick Bunn with the Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a structure fire at 5045 Highway 67 West. Dispatch advised that an individual called stating that his neighbor’s residence was on fire, and that the female who lived there had been burned.

Sheriff James Singleton said upon arrival Deputy Malone and Sgt. Bunn observed that the fire was actually located at 114 Hempstead 1530. Deputy Malone was advised by Fulton Volunteer Firefighter Clay Antley that the female had second and third degree burns all over her body. Deputy Malone then observed that the female, later identified as Tonya Cockrell, age 35, was burned on what appeared to be 100 percent of her body. Pafford EMS arrived and transported Ms. Cockrell to Christus St. Michael’s in Texarkana, Texas. She was later transported to Arkansas Children’s Hospital Burn Unit in critical condition.

“Upon further investigation deputies received information from a nurse at St. Michael’s ER stating that Ms. Cockrell (allegedly) told them that her husband Bruce was hitting her and punching her, and telling how her ugly she was, and then he poured gasoline on her and set her on fire.”

On July 9th at approximately 11:00 am, Hempstead County Sheriff’s Investigators were informed by the Pulaski County Coroner’s Office that the victim Tonya Cockrell had passed away at the Burn Unit of Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. Ms. Cockrell’s body was transported to the Arkansas State Crime Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

Sheriff Singleton said Captain Justin Crane, who is in charge of the investigation, has prepared affidavits and a Warrant of Arrest for Bruce Cockrell on the Charges of Capital Murder and Arson. The affidavit and arrest warrant were signed by Circuit Judge Duncan Culpepper today (July 10). Bruce Cockrell appeared before Judge Culpepper at 2:45 pm today and was ordered held without bond.