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Ex-MMA Fighter Accused In Texas Slayings Now Connected To Minnesota Cold Case Killing

Cedric Marks allegedly abducted April Pease from a battered women’s shelter in 2009.

By Dorian Geiger

A mixed martial artist accused of two slayings in Texas has been linked to a separate cold case murder of a Washington woman who authorities believe was kidnapped from a battered women’s shelter 11 years ago. 

Former MMA fighter Cedric Marks has been charged with second-degree murder in connection to the 2009 killing of April Pease, the mother of one of the Texas man’s children, according to KEYE-TV. Marks and Pease were supposedly in the midst of a bitter custody battle at the time of her death. Kellee Kristine Sorensen, 34, of Washington State, was also charged in connection with Pease’s murder.

Marks is currently facing murder charges in Texas in the deaths of his ex-girlfriend, Jenna Scott, 28, and her friend, Michael Swearingin, 32, whose bodies were found in a shallow grave in Oklahoma last year, according to the Associated Press. His then-pregnant girlfriend, Maya Maxwell, 26, was also indicted in the case. The pair are also accused of tampering with evidence, ABC reported. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Marks in the case. 

Cedric Marks

The MMA fighter was pinpointed as a person of interest in Pease’s killing following his Texas arrest. Authorities announced Marks’ arrest on the 11th anniversary of Pease’s disappearance on Monday.

"Our thoughts are with her family as they reflect back on the eleven painful years since she went missing," Bloomington Police said in a statement, KMSP-TV reported

"We would like to thank all the local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies that assisted with this homicide case that spanned over four different states. We would also like to recognize our detectives, both current and now retired, who worked on this missing person case that today lead to murder charges. They never gave up on trying to find April and hold those responsible for her disappearance accountable."

The 45-year-old once lived and raised his child with Pease in Washington State, WCCO-TV reported. Pease and her then-4-year-old child moved into a battered women’s shelter following an alleged domestic assault involving Marks in 2009. However, he allegedly discovered her whereabouts, and she later transferred out-of-state to a different shelter in Bloomfield, Minnesota to escape him.

But Marks and Sorensen allegedly tracked the woman to Minnesota where investigators say the pair kidnapped Pease. Marks allegedly drove to an undisclosed location and killed Pease. Marks’ suspected accomplice then took Pease’s son to a nearby women’s shelter, according to prosecutors, according to the New York Daily News.

In February, investigators spoke with Ginell McDonough, Marks’ current wife, who claimed her husband carried out Pease’s killing over custody of his son. 

McDonough also claimed that the mixed martial artist gave her a disc for his kid to watch on their 18th birthday, KMSP-TV reported. In two supposed videos included on the CD, the former fighter cites the custody battle with Pease and states he’s “about to go and do something that could either get him locked away for the rest of his life or get him killed.”

An official motive in the killing hasn’t yet been released by law enforcement.

Marks began his MMA career in 1999, KEYE-TV reported. Throughout his career, he earned a 31-28-0 record. His last fight was two years ago, according to the Austin outlet. 

In 2019, Marks momentarily escaped custody, triggering a nine-hour manhunt for the accused athlete, while a prisoner transport vehicle taking him from Michigan to Texas stopped for a McDonald’s snack break.

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