The bodies of four men were found Friday in a river outside an Oklahoma town where authorities were looking for four missing men – although it is unclear whether the remains are those of the missing, it said the police.
Friday’s discovery outside the town of Okmulgee came as police searched for four local men who disappeared afterwards, investigators say to believethey cycled from an Okmulgee home on Sunday evening.
Still, the city’s police chief informed the families of the missing men of the discovery of the remains as a courtesy before alerting the media, he said.
‘The natural (presumption) once the information gets out…would be that their relatives were found dead,’ so he briefed them while stressing he didn’t know the identities of the bodies, the chief said of the city police, Joe Prentice, in a Friday newspaper. conference.
Police have not said how the four men died. A medical examiner in Tulsa will perform autopsies and make identifications, Prentice said.
Prentice suspects foul play in the deaths of people found in the river, he told CNN on Saturday, but did not elaborate and did not directly answer questions about whether there were any signs of trauma.
A passerby called police after seeing something suspicious in a river Friday afternoon outside Okmulgee, a town of about 11,000 people about 35 miles south of Tulsa, Prentice said. .
Police arrived and saw remains protruding from the river, Prentice said. Police initially said they did not know how many bodies were there, but a few hours later they said four male bodies had been pulled from the water.
The bodies punctuate a deepening mystery for police in eastern Oklahoma City: What happened to four friends who went missing in their hometown this week? And if the bodies are not those of these four men, whose are they?
Four men living in Okmulgee – Mark Chastain, 32; Billy Chastain, 30; Mike Sparks, 32; and Alex Stevens, 29 – were reported missing by relatives on Monday evening or early Tuesday, Okmulgee Police said.
“All four are close friends and are believed to have left the home of Billy Chastain on the west side of Okmulgee,” on Sunday October 9 at around 8 p.m., police said in their initial statement.
“All would have been on bicycles,” reads the police statement, without specifying why they had gathered or where they might have intended to go.
At least two men are said to have cell phones with them. Police were able to trace the path of at least one phone east of town and then south, but the phone was eventually turned off or lost power, police said.
The data indicates the phones went to two salvage yards — one about 5 miles from the river and the other about 10 to 12 miles from the river, Prentice told CNN on Saturday. Police did not say whether the phones were recovered.
Because the phone data was not near the river, “we never considered that (river) as a search area,” he told reporters on Friday.
Prentice warned that the paths of the phones did not necessarily have to be the path taken by the men.
No bikes were found, Prentice said on Saturday.
Police received reports of sightings of the men after Sunday evening, but investigators – including those checking surveillance footage in the area – have not verified any of them, Prentice told reporters on Friday.
CNN’s attempt to reach the Tulsa medical examiner for comment Saturday was not immediately successful.