4 charged in deaths of 2 men found chained in Oklahoma pond
OKLAHOMA CITY — Four people who are white are facing charges in the deaths of two men who are black, whose bodies were found dismembered and chained to cinder blocks in an Oklahoma City pond, but the prosecutor handling the case said Thursday the killings are not believed to be racially motivated.
Authorities say the slayings instead stemmed from a gun sale arranged on Craigslist that turned deadly.
The bodies of Alize Smith and Jarron Moreland, both 21, were found April 18, according to police in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore. Both men had been reported missing four days prior.
The killings have received attention from bloggers and activists, with some comparing them to lynchings.
Kevin Garcia-Boettler, 22, faces charges of being an accessory to murder, desecration of a corpse and unlawful removal of a body. He is jailed on $3 million bond. Bill Smith, an attorney listed in court paperwork as representing Garcia-Boettler, did not return a message seeking comment on the case.
Garcia-Boettler’s 16-year-old brother is charged with one count of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, desecration of a corpse, unlawful removal of a body and for having a gun after he had been convicted as a juvenile. No attorney is listed for him in court paperwork. He is jailed on $5 million bond.
Cleveland County prosecutor Greg Mashburn said he does not plan to seek additional charges related to race.
“We definitely explored that, and the evidence absolutely shows that this was not racially motivated,” Mashburn said. He declined further comment.
The brothers’ mother, Crystal Boettler, 40, is charged with being an accessory to murder. Her boyfriend, Johnny Barker, 43, is charged with being an accessory to murder, desecration of a corpse and unlawful removal of a body.
Authorities say the two brothers arranged a meeting over Craigslist to buy a gun from Smith and Moreland. Investigators say Garcia-Boettler told them that he and his 16-year-old brother picked up Smith and drove to a grocery store parking lot in Moore where Moreland approached and entered their van. Police say Garcia-Boettler told them he heard a gun cock and that his younger brother then fired.
Moreland’s mother told television station KFOR she wonders whether more happened than a gun sale gone bad.
“To me, it’s like y’all planned to torture them,” she said of the suspects.