New details are emerging about the mysterious disappearance of four men in Okmulgee, Oklahoma..
Mark Chastain, 32, Billy Chastain, 30, Mike Sparks, 32, and Alex Stevens, 29, were reported missing one week ago by their families.
According to Okmulgee authorities, the remains have been positively identified as those of the missing men.
“The investigation has now been transformed into a murder investigation,” said Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice.
All four men were shot and dismembered before their bodies were tossed into the river, Chief Prentice said.
“That is why determining identity was difficult,” he said, noting that the river had likely been a dump site after their deaths.
They were believed to have left Billy Chastain’s west side Okmulgee house on Oct. 9. All four are close friends.
They were all riding bicycles, according to reports.
Throughout the investigation, authorities have received multiple sighting reports of the men, but none of those sightings were confirmed.
Southwest of Okmulgee, search crews discovered human remains on Friday afternoon.
The bodies were probably disposed of early Monday morning, according to Prentice who is still trying to determine the timeline for the murders.
Based on a statement from a witness, Prentice says he believes the men planned to commit a crime before they went missing.
“We don’t know what they planned or where they planned to go,” he said.
According to Prentice, investigators searched the salvage yard where one of the men’s phones was tracked, but they didn’t find anything. However, evidence of a ‘violent event’ was discovered nearby.
Currently, the salvage yard’s owner, Joe Kennedy, is a person of interest but has not been named as a suspect in the case. Kennedy has gone missing, officials say.
A blue PT Cruiser belonging to Joe Kennedy was located and is in police custody, according to Okmulgee Police Department.
The vehicle was found abandoned behind a Morris, Oklahoma, business. Investigators are investigating how it got there.
In previous interviews, Kennedy denied knowing the men, according to Prentice.
The police are still looking for the missing bicycles.
Prentice said that he has worked more than 80 murders in his career. “I have worked murders involving multiple victims. I have worked dismemberments. But in this case, there are the most victims and it is the most violent.”
“I haven’t worked anything like it, but it’s right up there in the top.” he added.