The investigation into four men who disappeared last week after leaving their bicycle home in Okmulgee, Okla., is now a homicide investigation, the city’s police chief said, after four dismembered bodies recovered from a river were positively identified as the missing men.
“While the official cause and manner of death is still pending, each victim was shot,” Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice said at a news conference Monday. “The four bodies were dismembered before they went into the river which made it difficult to determine their identities and that’s why it took so long.”
The four men who live in Okmulgee – Mark Chastain, 32; Billy Chastain, 30; Mike Sparks, 32; and Alex Stevens, 29, were reported missing by family members last Monday night or early Tuesday morning to Okmulgee police after they left Billy Chastain’s home on a bicycle around 9 p.m. Oct. 9.
Investigators now believe the four men intended to “carry out a criminal act,” Prentice said at a news conference Monday, citing a witness who invited investigators to join him and told them to “play enough of a lick for everybody.”
“That’s common terminology for some type of criminal behavior, but we don’t know what they were planning or where they were planning to do it,” Prentice said.
Also, police raided a junkyard Saturday in Okmulgee, Prentice said. Although “nothing of note was seen” inside, Prentice said there was “evidence of a violent incident” at a neighboring property.
Prentice said there is a person of interest but no charges have been filed. The person of interest has been missing since Saturday night and may be suicidal, Prentice said.
The four bodies were found on Friday after a passer-by called the police after seeing something suspicious. Prentice was notified Sunday afternoon about the positive IDs, he said Monday, and the families of the four men were also notified. The bodies seemed resigned to being their loved ones, Prentice said, but the news that they had been dismembered was “obviously a shock.”
The police have not recovered the bike, nor the gun used in the murders.
“I have done more than 80 murders in my career. I have worked on homicides involving multiple victims. I’ve made cuts, but this case involves the largest number of victims, and it’s a very violent event,” Prentice said. “So I can’t say I’ve never dealt with anything like this, but it’s up there.”