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A man named as a “person of interest” in a quadruple homicide has been arrested in Florida, according to police.
Joseph Kennedy, 67, was arrested on Tuesday in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida, just a couple of days after he was reported missing from Okmulgee, Oklahoma — about 40 miles south of Tulsa — according to police.
During a live press conference on Monday, Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice said Kennedy was a person of interest in connection with the murders of Alex Stevens, 29, Mike Sparks, 32, and brothers Mark Chastain, 32, and Billy Chastain, 30.
Police emphasized that Kennedy was not currently a suspect in the men’s deaths.
The four friends disappeared on Sunday, Oct. 9. They were last seen on their bicycles, leaving Billy Chastain’s West 6th residence in Okmulgee. On Friday, the men’s partially dismembered remains were found in the Deep Fork River near Sharp Road, just miles southwest of where they were last seen.
Chief Prentice said all four men were shot before their remains were dumped in the water.
“It would take a considerable amount of time to put the bodies in the condition that they were and then dump them in the river,” said Prentice, according to CBS Tulsa affiliate KOTV-DT.
Chief Prentice had appealed to the public for help locating Kennedy, the owner of a local junkyard with whom investigators said they spoke on Friday as part of their ongoing investigation. A search of Kennedy’s did not produce anything concrete; however, investigators found “evidence” that a “violent crime” occurred on a neighboring property.
Evidence found on the second property included blood, according to KOTV-DT.
Investigators feared Kennedy was possibly suicidal when he disappeared on Saturday in his blue PT Cruiser.
Police announced Monday that Kennedy’s car had subsequently been found a few miles east of Okmulgee.
“It was abandoned behind a business in Morris, Oklahoma,” according to police. “Investigators are looking into how it came to be there.”
The search for Kennedy ended Tuesday morning when he was arrested in a stolen vehicle in Florida, about 1,200 miles from his Oklahoma residence.
Daytona Beach Shores Director of Public Safety Michael Fowler said a license plate reader alerted authorities to Kennedy’s stolen car, which he drove near South Atlantic Avenue — a residential area on the south side of the peninsula — according to NBC News.
“Upon confirming his status as a missing person, we were notified that he is a person of interest in a quadruple homicide,” said Fowler.
Though Kennedy has not been charged in connection with the men’s murders, Okmulgee County District Court officers issued a warrant to accelerate a judgment and sentence pertaining to a separate shooting from 2012, according to Okmulgee police.
Records obtained by the Tulsa outlet show Kennedy is currently serving a deferred 10-year sentence for the shooting, which reportedly took place at his scrapyard, A&A Salvage, after six men broke in and Kennedy shot one of them.
The six men were charged with burglary, according to KOTV-DT, and Kennedy’s deferred sentence was expected to expire in May 2023.
The bond for the warrant is $500,000, according to authorities.
“The District Attorney and the Sheriff will begin the process of getting Kennedy back to Okmulgee County,” said police. “The murder investigation is ongoing, and investigators continue to follow leads every day.”
On Monday, Prentice said the four murdered men had planned to commit a crime at the time of their disappearance, though the details about the alleged crime remained unknown.
An alleged co-conspirator who backed out of the deal told investigations they were going to “hit a lick big enough for all of them.”
Family members of the four deceased men continue to reel from the shocking murders, including Billy and Mark Chastain’s cousin, Ashley Carnes.
“There’s gonna be that void, there’s gonna be that hole, there’s gonna be just that memory,” Carnes told KOTV-DT. “It’s all we got now, the memories of them. And it hurts.”
Jail records show Kennedy was booked into the Volusia County jail, where he is charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle and awaits extradition back to Okmulgee County.
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