Police announced that authorities found the person of interest in a quadruple murder and dismemberment. Oklahoma salvage yard owner Joseph L. Kennedy, 67, was arrested all the way over in Florida, allegedly driving a stolen vehicle.
“He was arrested in a stolen vehicle that was reported stolen to the Okmulgee County Sheriff’s Office on the 17th,” Police Chief Joe Prentice of Okmulgee, Oklahoma, said in an update Tuesday.
Prentice named Kennedy in a press conference on Monday as the person of interest in a quadruple murder case. Billy Chastain, 30, his brother Mark Chastain, 32, Mike Sparks, 32, and Alex Stevens, 29, left Billy’s home on bikes on Sunday, Oct. 9, officers have said. The men were soon reported missing. Authorities said their were remains — shot and dismembered — were discovered in a local river on Friday. Prentice estimated they were likely thrown in the river late Sunday, Oct. 9, or early Oct. 10. The chief did not suggest a motive, but said the four of them were planning some sort of criminal activity.
Prentice did not accuse Kennedy of specific wrongdoing. He said that investigators had previously searched Kennedy’s salvage yard and though they did not find any evidence there, he did note “evidence of a violent event was discovered on an adjoining property.” Kennedy appeared to be cooperative when speaking to investigators on Friday, but he was reported missing on Saturday night and could be suicidal, Prentice said.
The missing salvage yard owner was believed to be driving his blue Chrysler PT Cruiser. Prentice announced Monday afternoon that the vehicle was found abandoned behind a business in the nearby city of Morris, Oklahoma.
“Investigators are looking into how it came to be there,” Prentice said.
Authorities wanted to speak with Kennedy, the chief said in the press conference on Monday. Now they’re going to get their chance. He was arrested Tuesday, allegedly driving a stolen vehicle in the city of Daytona Beach Shores, Florida. Oklahoma authorities want him back, and they are leveraging a prior criminal case to return him to the Sooner State. Records show Kennedy entered a blind plea on March 13, 2013 for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and obstructing an officer. Put on probation, he had to stay out of trouble and could not leave Oklahoma without permission for 10 years since the day of his sentencing on May 15, 2013.
Accordingly, Prentice announced they got an arrest warrant in Okmulgee County District Court for an “Application to Accelerate a Judgement and Sentence” in connection to that case.
“The bond for that warrant is $500,000,” he said.
Kennedy remains at the Volusia County Jail on a count of grand theft of a motor vehicle at less than $100,000 and also as a fugitive from justice.
“The District Attorney and the Sheriff will begin the process of getting Kennedy back to Okmulgee County,” Prentice said. “The murder investigation is ongoing and investigators continue to follow leads every day.”
Prentice on Monday declined to release information on the kind of gun used in the murders, such as whether it was a handgun or rifle. He said that investigators would become more reserved with information because this is now a homicide case. Prentice did say that the victims’ family members voiced shock at the dismemberments.
“I did speak with the family members,” he said. “They were upset. I think that they had already resolved themselves that this was their loved ones, but the additional information about dismemberment was obviously a shock, and they were very distraught.”
[Kennedy booking photo via Volusia County Jail; images of the Chastain brothers, Sparks, and Stevens via Okmulgee Police Department]
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