A Kansas carnival worker posing as a member of a fake “carnival mafia” convinced three other workers to kill a couple as part of a supposed initiation ritual, police in Arkansas said.
Kimberly Younger allegedly posed as carnival mafia leader Frank Zaitchik, and used text messages to order the murders of fellow carnival workers Alfred and Pauline Carpenter on July 14 at fairgrounds in Barton County, Kansas, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Days later, the Carpenters’ bodies were found buried in a shallow grave in Ozark National Forest, not far from the fairgrounds where they had been working and where investigators believe they were killed, according to the Wichita Eagle, a daily newspaper in Kansas, where the Carpenters were from.
Younger, 52, Michael Fowler, 54, Rusty Frasier, 35, and Christine Tenney, 37, all carnival workers, were each charged by Van Buren police in Crawford County this week with two counts of corpse abuse, one count of theft by receiving, and one count of evidence tampering, the Democrat Gazette reports.
All four have pleaded not guilty and are being held in lieu of bond, according to court records. Homicide charges are expected to be filed in the case soon.
Fowler told police that the killings were an initiation into the carnival mafia, according to the Democrat Gazette. He said he received orders via text message from Zaitchik to kill the Carpenters and afterward, clean the inside of the trailer where Pauline Carpenter had been killed and then dispose of the bodies.
But police examined Younger’s cellphone and discovered that she had a Facebook page in the name of Frank Zaitchik.
They also found the text messages she exchanged with Fowler in character as Zaitchik, according to 40/29 News, a local Arkansas TV station:
Fowler: "it's done their dead."
Younger (pretending to be Zaitchik): "Good Job, now get out."
Fowler: "I am trying to calm down right now."
Younger: "Deep Breaths. The 1st is always the hardest. Jen sent me pictures of the man. I sent onto the heads of council. War is over."
Fowler: "Thank God and ok. I feel like I got a lead weight on my chest."
Younger: "You need to relax."
Fowler: "I am my chest has eased up a bit."
When police told Fowler that the orders to kill the Carpenters had come from Younger posing as Zaitchik, Fowler said Younger "had me suckered the whole f---ing way and I just threw my whole life away,” according to 40/29 News.
Fowler then told detectives Younger and Frasier directly participated in the killing of the Carpenters. Younger distracted Alfred while he grabbed the man in a headlock and tried to cut his throat, Fowler said. When Carpenter fought back, Frasier stabbed Carpenter in the chest, Fowler said.
Fowler then shot Carpenter twice in the head with a 9mm pistol and went into the couple's camper trailer and shot Pauline Carpenter twice in the head as she slept, police said. They put the bodies in a camper and drove into Ozark National Forest, where they buried the couple under rocks and wood.
The killings were uncovered after the Carpenters were buried when Tenney's sister-in-law in Wichita, Kansas, told police that Tenney had called and said she had been kidnapped by three people who had murdered an elderly couple.
Asked whether there was even such a thing as a carnival mafia, Van Buren police spokesman Jonathan Wear said it was something Younger “definitely made up,” according to the Associated Press.
[Photo: Barton County Sheriff’s Dep’t, depicting, clockwise from top left, alleged “Carnival Mafia” wannabes Fowler, Frasier, Younger and Tenney]