Okmulgee, OK — Police have identified the remains of four men whose dismembered bodies were pulled from a river in Okmulgee last week.
“Although the official cause and manner of death is still pending, each victim suffered gunshot wounds,” Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice said in a press conference Monday. “All four bodies were dismembered before being placed in the river and that is what caused difficulty in determining identities and that’s why it took so long.”
The men – Mark Chastain, 32, Billy Chastain, 30, Mike Sparks, 32, and Alex Stevens, 29 – were reported missing last Monday, Oct. 9. According to CNN, they went missing after leaving Chastain’s home on bikes at around 9 p.m.
Their bodies were found Friday after a passerby called police to report “something suspicious” in the Deep Fork River, which is southeast of the city of Okmulgee.
Chief Prentice said this is one of the most gruesome murder scenes he’s ever seen.
“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,” said Prentice. “So, I can’t say that I’ve never worked anything like it, but it’s right up there at the top.”
Chief Prentice added that a witness told investigators the men were planning on committing a crime together before their murder.
“We believe the men planned to commit some kind of criminal act when they left the residence on W. 6th Street,” said Chief Prentice. “That belief is based on information supplied by a witness who reports they were invited to go with the men to ‘hit a lick big enough for all of us.'”
While it remains unknown what the men planned on doing, police did find “evidence of a violent event” on the property surrounding a local scrapyard.
According to People, the owner of the scrapyard, Joe Kennedy, is now a person of interest. Kennedy was reported missing Saturday and is said to be suicidal.
Monday afternoon, Chief Prentice posted an investigation update to the Okmulgee Police Department’s Facebook page, where he said that Kennedy’s abandoned vehicle has been located.
“Joe Kennedy’s blue PT Cruiser has been located and is in police custody. It was abandoned behind a business in Morris Oklahoma. Investigators are looking into how it came to be there. Currently we have no vehicle information for Kennedy.”
Chief Prentice said that Kennedy had been cooperating with police before he went missing.
He added that since Kennedy is not a suspect at this time, he will not be releasing his photo to the public.