The bodies were pulled from the Oklahoma River as police searched for the missing motorcyclists




CNN

The bodies of four men were found Friday in a river outside an Oklahoma city where authorities have been searching for the four missing men, although it was unclear if the remains were those of the missing, police said.

Friday’s discovery came outside the city of Okmulgee as police searched for four missing men who investigators believe left an Okmulgee home on bicycles Sunday afternoon.

However, the city’s police chief notified the missing men’s families of the discovery as a courtesy before alerting the media, he said.

“That would be a natural (assumption), when the information comes out … that their loved ones were found dead,” so he insisted he didn’t know the identities of the bodies reported to them, city police Chief Joe Prentice said in a news release Friday. conference.

The police have not said how the four dead men died; A Tulsa medical examiner will perform autopsies and make identifications, Prentice said on Facebook.

A passerby called police Friday afternoon after seeing something suspicious in a river outside Okmulgee, a city of about 11,000 people about 35 miles south of Tulsa, Prentice said.

Police arrived and saw the remains sticking out of the river, Prentice said. Police initially said they did not know how many bodies there were, although a few hours later they said four male bodies had been pulled from the water.

The bodies highlight a deep mystery for police in east Oklahoma City: What happened to four people who went missing from their hometown this week? And if the bodies do not belong to these four men, who do they belong to?

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 Monday night or early Tuesday morning to Okmulgee police.

“The four are close friends and are believed to have left Billy Chastain’s home west of Okmulgee” around 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, police said in an initial statement.

“They were all riding bicycles,” the police statement said, without clarifying why they had gathered or where they intended to go.

At least two were believed to have cell phones. Police tracked Mark Chastain’s phone “to an area south of Okmulgee, but it was turned off or lost power,” and “officers checked the area and found no sign of the men,” the release said.

The river where the unidentified bodies were found on Friday is nowhere near the path indicated by the phone data, Prentice told reporters on Friday.

No bikes were found near the river, Prentice said.

“All the information we had so far indicated that our missing men – based on phone data – went east from the town, and eventually south. … This (river) is in the opposite direction,” Prentice said.

“We have never considered this (river) as a search area,” he said.

Prentice cautioned that the path of the telephone was not necessarily the path taken by men.

“I can tell you where Mark Chastain’s cell phone went, but I can’t tell you definitively if he had it at the time,” Prentice said Friday.

Police received reports of sightings of the man Sunday afternoon, but investigators — including those checking nearby surveillance video — have not verified any of them, Prentice told reporters Friday.

Attempts by CNN to reach the Tulsa medical examiner on Saturday were not immediately successful.