Man Wanted for Questioning in 4 Oklahoma Deaths Is Arrested

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
October 18, 2022US News
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Man Wanted for Questioning in 4 Oklahoma Deaths Is Arrested
Officials investigate a bridge near the Deep Fork River where bodies were found in Okmulgee, Okla., on Oct. 17, 2022. (Stephen Pingry/Tulsa World via AP)

OKMULGEE, Okla.—A man wanted for questioning about the deaths and dismemberment of four men in eastern Oklahoma has been arrested in Florida, police said Tuesday.

Joe Kennedy, 67, was arrested Monday in Daytona Beach Shores while driving a stolen vehicle, according to a statement by Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice.

Prentice has described Kennedy as a “person of interest” in the deaths of Mark Chastain, 32, Billy Chastain, 30, Mike Sparks, 32, and Alex Stevens, 29.

Prentice declined to say Kennedy is a suspect, and he has not been charged in Oklahoma, but will be brought back to the state for questioning.

Joe Kennedy
Joe Kennedy. (Volusia County Jail)

“The murder investigation is ongoing and investigators continue to follow leads every day,” Prentice said in the statement.

Kennedy was being held for grand theft of a motor vehicle in Florida, according to jail records that do not list an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

The dismembered bodies of the four men, who had been reported missing after disappearing Oct. 9, were found Friday in the Deep Fork River in Okmulgee, a town of around 11,000 about 40 miles south of Tulsa.

missing men
A flyer shows missing men (top L–R) Billy Chastain, Mark Chastain, Alex Stevens, and (bottom L) Mike Sparks. (Okmulgee Police Department)

A witness told police of being invited to join the four to “hit a lick,” Prentice said during a Monday news conference, but said he did not know precisely what was meant by the phrase.

“That is common terminology for engaging in some type of criminal behavior,” Prentice said. “We do not know what they were planning or where they planned to do it.”

Prentice said investigators searched a scrapyard owned by Kennedy and adjoining property owned by other people. The police chief said evidence of a “violent event” was found on the adjoining property, but did not elaborate.

An official cause of death has not been released, but all four men had gunshot wounds, and their bodies had been dismembered, according to the police chief.

Prentice has said Kennedy, before he disappeared late last week, was questioned about the four missing men but denied knowing them and that he has no reason to believe that the four men and Kennedy were acquainted.

Prentice, who did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment, also said authorities will seek to revoke a deferred 10-year prison sentence Kennedy received after pleading guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon in 2012.

By Ken Miller

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