‘A very violent event’: Human remains found in river confirmed as missing Okmulgee men


By John Dobberstein, Editor

Human remains discovered in the Deep Fork river Friday in Okmulgee were positively identified today by authorities as belonging to the group of men who mysteriously went missing in Okmulgee nearly a week ago.

Although the manner of death is still pending investigation by medical examiners, Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice said each of the men had been shot once and dismembered before being deposited into the river. The victims were Mark Chastain, Billy Chastain, Mike Sparks and Alex Stevens.

Police are looking for Joe Kennedy, the owner of a scrap yard in Okmulgee, as a “person of interest” in the case after talking to him earlier. He is now considered missing and was last driving a blue Chrysler PT Cruiser with the license plate number of LSA 245. He went missing Saturday night and may be suicidal.

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Prentice said a witness told investigators that the four men left their homes to “hit a lick big enough for all of them,” or commit a crime, and had invited the witness to go with them. Police don’t know where or when the crime was to occur.

Investigators conducted a methodical search of a salvage yard on 20th Street in Okmulgee on Saturday and did not find anything out of place, but Prentice said on an adjoining salvage yard they found “evidence of a violent event.”

Police said Kennedy owned the scrapyard on 20th Street, but the adjoining property where the violent event occurred belonged to three different businesses. During the first interview, Prentice said, Kennedy “appeared to be cooperative. He was not antagonistic.” Kennedy denied knowing any of the other business owners on the adjoining properties, Prentice said.

Families of the victims were informed about the identification Monday morning. Prentice said they had mostly resolved themselves to the fact the unidentified bodies found Friday in the river were their relatives, but they were “distraught” to learn about the bodies being dismembered.

Prentice said police have many more leads to investigate and reports to write as they shift into a murder investigation rather than a missing persons event. The recovery of the bodies in the water stretched over 3 days, as investigators work methodically to ensure no evidence was missed.

“We have worked around the clock all week and we were out this weekend, and we will work at the same pace that have we have been working to try t find out exactly what happened to their loves ones and who did it,” he said.

Assisting with the search and body recovery were the Okmulgee County District Attorney’s Office, FBI, Oklahoma Highway Patrol boat team, Lighthorse Police, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Okmulgee Fire Department and Okmulgee County and city of Okmulgee emergency management departments.

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