Person of interest in gruesome deaths of 4 friends in Oklahoma arrested in Florida, police say

A person of interest in a homicide investigation in Oklahoma, where four friends went missing and were later found shot and severely dismembered in a river, was arrested in Central Florida Tuesday, according to police. 

Police in Okmulgee, a city located about 40 miles south of Tulsa, said Joe Kennedy was taken into custody in Daytona Beach Shores after being found in a vehicle that had been reported stolen Monday to the Okmulgee County Sheriff's Office. The district attorney and the sheriff will begin the process of getting him back to Okmulgee County, where they will question him. 

A warrant was also issued for his arrest in an unrelated Okmulgee County case for an application to accelerate a judgement and sentence he received in relation to a shooting in 2012. The bond for that warrant is $500,000. 

In relation to the murders of the group of friends – Mark Chastain, 32, Billy Chastain, 30, Mike Sparks, 32, and Alex Stevens, 29 – officials said Kennedy had not been named a suspect, and the Okmulgee Police Department said in a Facebook post, "The murder investigation is ongoing and investigators continue to follow leads every day."



Billy Chastain, 30, Mark Chastain, 32, Alex Stevens, 29, and Mike Sparks, 32, are pictured in provided images by police. (Credit: Okmulgee Police Department)

Officers in Oklahoma said they discovered the dismembered remains belonging to the group of friends last week. 

On Oct. 9, authorities said the four friends left Billy Chastain’s home around 8 p.m., all riding bicycles, according to Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice. Investigators believe the men had planned to "commit some type of criminal act" before they were killed, the chief said.

That was based on information from a witness who had been invited to join the men to "hit a lick big enough for all of them," Prentice said, quoting the witness, though the chief added law enforcement didn't know what they were planning or where they planned to do it.

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  (KOKI-TV (FOX 23))

On Friday, a passerby reported something suspicious in the water, leading authorities to find the human remains. Prentice said investigators found the majority of the remains on Friday evening but worked through the weekend to continue recovering remains and to identify the bodies. The chief added that investigators have not found the men's bicycles.

Investigators also found "evidence of a violent event" on an adjoining property to a local scrapyard owned by Kennedy.

Kennedy was reported missing on Saturday night and police said at the time that he "may be suicidal." 

Authorities did not believe Kennedy was a threat.