US police open murder inquiry after four dismembered bodies found

Four friends who disappeared nine days ago after leaving the home of one of them by bicycle discovered dead in a river

From top left, Billy Chastain, Mark Chastain, Alex Stevens and Mike Sparks who were all found dead in a river in Oklahoma. AFP
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Police in Oklahoma have opened a murder investigation after the discovery of four dismembered bodies in a river in the small town of Okmulgee in the central US state, law enforcement officials said on Monday.

Four friends disappeared on the evening of Sunday, October 9, after having left the home of one of them by bicycle, sparking a large search.

Investigators finally discovered four dismembered bodies in a river on Friday. An autopsy confirmed they were indeed the missing: Mark and Billy Chastain, 32 and 30, Mike Sparks, 32, and Alex Stevens, 29, local police chief Joe Prentice said Monday.

The medical examiner also identified traces of bullet wounds.

Investigators found evidence of a violent episode in a landfill in the city and are interested in interviewing the owner of the neighbouring land.

The owner, who is not considered a suspect at this stage, disappeared on Friday, the police chief said at a press conference.

According to him, the four victims were planning “to commit some type of criminal act” at the time of their disappearance.

“That belief is based on information supplied by a witness who reports they were invited to go with them to, quote-unquote, hit a lick big enough for all of them. We do not know what they planned or where they plan to do it,” he said.

Updated: October 18, 2022, 9:17 PM