The bodies of four men retrieved from an Oklahoma river have now been identified. According to CNN, Mark Chastain, 32; Billy Chastain, 30; Mike Sparks, 32; and Alex Stevens, 29, were recovered on Oct. 14 from a river in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Their remains were found shot and dismembered.
According to BuzzFeed News, Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice held a press conference in which he stated that the men were last seen leaving Billy Chastain’s house around 8 p.m. on bicycles “pulling trailers.” The men, whom police described as close friends, might have been up to no good when they went missing on Oct. 9.
Based on a witness’s information provided to the police, the victims planned to commit “some type of criminal act” when they left the house. The witness told investigators that the men were planning to “‘hit a lick’ big enough for all of them,” Prentice said, BuzzFeed News reports.
“That is common terminology for engaging in some type of criminal behavior, but we do not know what they were planning or where they planned to do it,” he said, according to CNN.
Although police were unsure what the men were planning to do, investigators were able to trace their movements to a salvage yard and a local gas station. They traced the men by using data provided by an app on Mark Chastain’s wife’s phone. The men left the station and then visited a second scrapyard located south of Okmulgee, and Chastain’s phone then turned off. Police said they believe a violent event on a nearby property led to the men’s deaths.
The four bodies were found on Oct. 14 after a passerby called the police about seeing something suspicious only partly submerged in the river.
Authorities identified human remains and recovered the men’s bodies. Due to the state of the remains, the bodies were not confirmed to belong to the missing men until Sunday night.
“I’ve worked over 80 murders in my career. I have worked murders involving multiple victims. I have worked dismemberments, but this case involves the highest number of victims, and it’s a very violent event,” Prentice said. “So I can’t say that I’ve never worked anything like it, but it’s right up there at the top.”
Prentice went on to reveal that the cause and manner of death is still pending, however each victim had gunshot wounds and all four bodies were dismembered before being dumped in the river.
“That is what caused difficulty in determining identity, and that’s why it took so long,” Prentice said, according to BuzzFeed News.
The owner of the two salvage yards, Joe Kennedy, was named a person of interest in the killings, and went missing shortly after his initial interrogation. Investigators spoke with Kennedy on Oct. 14, when the men’s remains were discovered in a nearby river but were not yet positively identified.
Prentice said that Kennedy “appeared to be cooperative” and “was not antagonistic.”
Shortly after the announcement that the bodies had been identified, police located Kennedy’s vehicle but not Kennedy himself. His blue PT Cruiser was found abandoned in Morris, Oklahoma, and police were unsure how it arrived there.
On Oct. 18, Kennedy, 67, was arrested in Florida after driving a vehicle that was reported stolen on Monday. He was booked into Volusia County Branch Jail on charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle, where he is being held without bond. He’s also being held on a warrant from Okmulgee County related to a different shooting in 2012. Kennedy is set to appear before a Volusia County judge on Wednesday.
“The District Attorney and the Sheriff will begin the process of getting Kennedy back to Okmulgee County. … The murder investigation is ongoing and investigators continue to follow leads every day,” police said in a statement, according to CNN.