LITTLE ROCK, Ark. | A man charged in the 2011 death of a former St. John resident pleaded not guilty Monday to first-degree murder, one of his lawyers said.
Kevin Duck is accused of killing girlfriend Dawna Natzke, a mother of three and a police dispatcher in the central Arkansas community of Hot Springs Village.
Natzke graduated from Lake Central High School in 1984 and grew up in St. John. She worked as a police dispatcher in Arkansas for seven years.
Duck appeared in court Monday and pleaded not guilty, said one of his attorneys, T. Clay Janske.
Janske said Duck did not kill Natzke, who was last seen leaving a Christmas party with Duck on Dec. 21, 2011. Volunteer searchers found Natzke's body days later on New Year's Eve.
Natzke, 46, died from blunt force trauma and drowning, according to an autopsy report cited in court documents.
A medical examiner said Natzke died within three to four hours of leaving the holiday party.
Prosecutors only recently charged Duck in Natzke's death.
Authorities arrested Duck, 30, last month in Colorado. He is being held on $250,000 bond. Janske said Duck is set to have a hearing about his bond Dec. 30.
Prosecutors didn't immediately return a phone message seeking comment Monday.
Duck went to Hot Springs Village police the day after the party and said Natzke was missing, according to court documents. He told authorities that he and Natzke left the party and drove to Natzke's home.
"He stated he went to bed and Dawna left to go back to the party," a probable cause document says. "He then states he got up on the morning of December 22, 2011, at 7:30 a.m. and neither Dawna nor her vehicle were at the house."
A police dispatcher reached out to area hospitals and local law enforcement, but didn't have any luck, according to the probable cause document.
Then, a police sergeant "advised Duck nothing more could be done and if the agency heard from Natzke, Duck would be notified," according to the probable cause document.
Natzke didn't show up for work Dec. 23, and authorities opened a missing person's case on Natzke.
Hot Springs Village Police Chief Gary Adams declined to comment Monday and referred questions to the local prosecutor.