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Oklahoma Friends Were ‘Chopped In Half At Their Waist’ Before Dumped In River, Victim's Mother Says
Although a person of interest is in custody in Florida, no one has been charged with the grisly quadruple murder of Alex Stevens, Mike Sparks, and brothers Billy and Mark Chastain of Okmulgee.
The mystery continues surrounding four friends in Oklahoma whose dismembered bodies were found in a river.
Four men from Okmulgee, Oklahoma, were reported missing after vanishing on their bicycles in the late afternoon or early evening of Oct. 9. Five days later, the body parts of Alex Stevens, 29, Mike Sparks, 32, and brothers Billy Chastain, 30 and Mark Chastain, 32, were found “protruding from the water” of the Deep Fork River, just miles from where they were last spotted near Billy Chastain’s Okmulgee home.
Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice told local outlets the men sustained gunshot wounds and were partially dismembered, while an official cause of death had yet to be determined.
The mother of Alex Stevens – the youngest of the four friends – spoke with the Daily Mail, giving details about the gruesome quadruple murder.
“My son and his friends were first shot multiple times, chopped in half at their waist, and then thrown into the Deep Fork River to rot away,” said Teresa Stevens.
So far, no one has been charged in connection with the four men’s deaths. However, police announced 67-year-old Joe Kennedy was a “person of interest” in the case shortly after he was questioned on Oct. 14, the same day the men's bodies were found.
Police searched Kennedy’s Okmulgee scrapyard, A&A Salvage, and though investigators found no evidence of the missing men, they did find “evidence” that a “violent crime” occurred on an adjoining property.
Kennedy, who was serving a deferred 10-year sentence for an unrelated 2012 shooting, was reported missing one day after being questioned, his car found abandoned just a few miles away in Morris, Oklahoma.
On Tuesday, Kennedy was arrested with an allegedly stolen car in Florida – some 1,200 miles from Okmulgee. He remains in a Volusia County jail on car theft charges and awaits transfer back to Oklahoma.
Teresa Stevens stated she hadn’t personally known Kennedy, but told the Daily Mail she believes the crime involved more than one suspect.
“For one person to kill four grown men, chop their bodies up, and dump them in a river… I just can’t see one person doing all that,” said the mother. “Whoever did this had to have help.”
Although a possible motive behind the grisly murders has yet to be determined, Chief Prentice told reporters that Stevens, Sparks, and the Chastain brothers planned to commit a crime when they disappeared on Oct. 9. A witness who decided not to join the men in their alleged criminal plot said they wanted to “hit a lick big enough for all of them.”
Teresa Stevens indicated the deaths of her son and his friends may have been drug-related, according to the Daily Mail.
“To chop a body in half is what the drug cartels do to the dead,” said the mother. “Whoever did this wanted to send a message.”
According to Teresa Stevens, the killer or killers also “chopped off one of their arms.”
The grieving mother said, “even if they were up there at the salvage yard up to no good or drugs were involved, no one deserved to die,” according to the Daily Mail.
Okmulgee has a population of more than 11,000 and sits about 40 miles south of Tulsa, one of many “boom towns” that caved to the pressures of several failing industries, opening itself up to ravaging job loss and methamphetamines, according to The Oklahoman. Okmulgee Mayor Mickey Baldwin stated that though the city has “cleaned up” in the past decade or two, some areas of Okmulgee continue to “struggle” because of methamphetamine addiction.
“I don’t mean to be like a hermit, but I want to get away from the hustle and bustle and the crime in the big cities,” said Okmulgee resident Lew York. “When tragic stuff like this happens, it seems to me like it makes people want to leave Okmulgee and go out into the country.”
The deaths of Stevens, Sparks, and the Chastain brothers leave many with more questions than answers, including Jessica Chastain, wife of Mark Chastain, according to Fox Tulsa affiliate KOKI. Jessica told the outlet their two young children aren’t quite old enough to comprehend the news about their father’s death but that “they can feel the sadness.”
“It just feels like he’s still in my garage, if that makes sense,” said Chastain. “Or he’s out here or something. He’s just here. It doesn’t feel like he’s gone. I don’t know if that’s normal, [but] I don’t feel like he’s gone.”
Police say they are still investigating the possibility of more than one person being involved in the quadruple murder. So far, there have been no arrests for the men’s murders.