Police arrested a “suspect” in central Florida, more than 1,200 miles away, in the killing of four cyclists in Oklahoma, authorities said Tuesday.
Joseph Kennedy, 67, was arrested Monday off the coast of Daytona Beach in a car “reportedly taken by Oakmoor,” according to a statement from Oakmoor, Oklahoma police. The Ji County Sheriff’s Office stole it.”
Okmulgee police said Mark Chastain, 32, Billy Chastain, 30, Mike Sparks, 32, and Alex Stevens, 29, were reported missing last week and have been missing for several days. The shot and dismembered body was later found in Deep Fork.
After naming Kennedy as a “person of interest” on Monday afternoon, police said the man’s blue Chrysler PT Cruiser was “abandoned behind a business” in Morris.
Kennedy was driving near the 2800 block of South Atlantic Avenue at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday when a police license plate reader detected Kennedy’s vehicle, listing it as a stolen vehicle and its driver “missing,” on behalf of the vehicle. Michael Fowler, director of public safety for the coast at Tona Beach, said.
According to Fowler, nothing happened at the time of Kennedy’s arrest and no statement was made to officials.
“After confirming his disappearance (with police in Oklahoma), we were told he was a suspect in the four-person homicide,” Fowler said.
Kennedy has a listed address in Okmulgee and is currently being held without bail. He was taken into custody at the Volusia County Sub-Jail at 10:21 a.m. Tuesday on one count of motor vehicle theft, according to Department of Corrections records.
Oklahoma police said Kennedy was also booked for the 2012 Okmulgee shooting.
Court records show Kennedy pleaded guilty in 2013 to felony assault and misdemeanor assault and obstruction of a police officer with a dangerous weapon.
He must meet probation conditions until May 15, 2023, court records show.
Oklahoma prosecutors said in court documents filed Tuesday that Kennedy violated his conditions and should now be sentenced on the two 2012 charges.
The assault charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
“There were a lot of people who broke into his salvage yard and Mr. Kennedy claimed he saw a gun, feared for his life and shot in self-preservation,” said Luke Gaither, Kennedy’s defense attorney. Tuesday.
“The state obviously has a different side.”
The Okmulgee police statement Tuesday did not name Kennedy as a suspect in the deaths of the four cyclists.
It was unclear Tuesday afternoon whether Kennedy had hired or assigned a lawyer.
Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentis said Kennedy came to the attention of investigators after he searched his scrap yard and found evidence of “violent incidents” on “adjacent properties.”
Kennedy was initially interviewed by Okmulgee police on Friday, when he apparently left the state, according to Prentice.
The four men were reported missing after leaving on bicycles earlier last week.
Prentice later said the men had been planning to commit an undisclosed crime.
Prentice said investigators’ beliefs were based on the words of a witness who was invited to attend because the men planned “to lick them all big enough,” Prentice said, using the slang term to make a profit criminal behavior.
Polly DeFrank and Suzanne Cichalski contributed.