VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. (KFOR) — The Okmulgee Police Department said the person of interest in the homicide deaths of four missing Oklahoma men whose bodies were found dismembered over the weekend has been arrested in Florida.
Joe Kennedy, considered a person of interest in the Oklahoma case who has not been officially named as a suspect, was arrested in Volusia County, Florida, on charges in an auto theft.
One week ago, family members reported 32-year-old Mark Chastain, 30-year-old Billy Chastain, 32-year-old Mike Sparks, and 29-year-old Alex Stevens missing.
On Monday afternoon, Okmulgee authorities announced that the remains found in a river southwest of Okmulgee on Friday had been positively identified as the missing men.
Investigators said they searched a salvage yard where one of the men’s phones was tracked but didn’t find anything. However, Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice said evidence of a ‘violent event’ was found at a nearby property.
Kennedy is the owner of the salvage yard.
Prentice said during previous interviews Kennedy has denied knowing the men.
However, when investigators went to talk to him again, he was nowhere to be found — until Tuesday.
According to Prentice, Kennedy was arrested in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida, on a grand theft auto charge after being caught in a vehicle that was reported stolen on Monday.
Kennedy is currently being held without bond in Volusia County Jail.
Additionally, a warrant has been issued by the Okmulgee County District Court for his arrest in connection with a shooting in 2012. The bond for that warrant is $500,000.
“The district attorney and the sheriff will begin the process of getting Kennedy back to Okmulgee County,” said Prentice. “The murder investigation is ongoing, and investigators continue to follow leads every day.”
Police say they are also still searching for the missing bicycles the victims were reportedly riding before their disappearance.
“I’ve worked over 80 murders in my career. I have worked murders involving multiple victims. I have worked dismemberments. But this case involves the highest number of victims and it’s a very violent event,” said Prentice. “So I can’t say that I’ve never worked anything like it, but it’s right up there at the top.”
Anyone with any information about the murders is asked to call 918-756-3511.