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Thousands expected to remember kidnapped teacher

SIDNEY (AP) — Sidney officials were expecting thousands of people to gather Friday for the funeral of a high school teacher who was kidnapped at random and strangled in January.

Funeral services for Sherry Arnold were set in the Sidney High School gymnasium where the 43-year-old math teacher taught along with her husband Gary, and where her two children go to school. The gym was built to hold 2,000 people and additional rooms were prepared to handle an overflow crowd.

"I expect we'll hit capacity," Sidney Public Schools Superintendent Dan Farr told the Billings Gazette ( ).

Arnold's disappearance shocked the tight-knit community in this eastern Montana town that was already dealing with the growing pains of the nearby boom in the North Dakota oil fields.

Arnold went missing after going for a jog on the morning of Jan. 7. Prosecutors said she was kidnapped by two men from Colorado who had arrived looking for work in the oil fields.

Michael Spell, 22, and Lester Van Waters Jr., 48, were arrested a week after Arnold's disappearance. Prosecutors have said Spell told investigators that he pulled Arnold into a car and Waters choked her to death before burying her in a shallow grave on a farmstead near Williston, N.D.

Spell tried to lead FBI agents to the burial site but failed. The search went on until Arnold's body was found near Williston last week.

Spell and Waters have pleaded not guilty to aggravated kidnapping and await trial. The men, both from Parachute, Colo., were being held on bail of $2.5 million each.

After Friday's service, Arnold was to be buried at the Sidney cemetery.


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