A scrapyard owner who had been considered a person of interest for weeks in the killing and dismembering of four men in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, has been charged with their murders.
Joseph Kennedy, 67, is now facing four counts of premeditated murder for allegedly killing Mark Chastain, 32, Billy Chastain, 30, Mikel Sparks, 32, and Alexray Stevens, 29, on Oct. 9, the district attorney for Okmulgee and McIntosh counties announced during a news conference Monday. Kennedy is being held without bond, she said.
According to court documents, Kennedy told a woman he was seeing that he had caught the four men stealing from him and shot them before cutting them up. District Attorney Carol Iski told reporters that the woman said Kennedy appeared agitated when he showed up at her house early in the morning the day after the four men’s dismembered bodies were discovered in an Oklahoma river. When she asked what was wrong, he told her, “they were all against him and he lost it and he just started shooting,” Iski said.
Kennedy disappeared for several days after being named a person of interest as the men’s remains were recovered. He was arrested by police in Florida on Oct. 18 in a black Toyota Tundra that had been reported stolen, and he was booked on suspicion of grand theft and two counts of being a fugitive from justice.
While no charges were filed at the time of his arrest, Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice said Kennedy was being held on a warrant related to a 2012 shooting case. According to court documents filed this week, Kennedy was charged that year with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after shooting a man he thought was stealing from him. The man, who survived, told investigators he was walking on the railroad tracks that run through Kennedy’s scrapyard when Kennedy confronted him with a firearm and shot him.
When asked during Monday’s news conference whether Kennedy could say he acted in self-defense in the killings of the four men, Iski said she couldn’t speculate on what his defense may be in court.
“The last time I checked, regardless of what happened, we don’t have a death penalty in Oklahoma for stealing,” she said.
A representative for the Okmulgee County Court Clerk’s office told BuzzFeed News Kennedy has been appointed a public defender to represent him in the case. His attorney could not be reached for comment Tuesday.