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story.lead_photo.caption Clockwise from top left: Kimberly Younger, Rusty Frasier, Thomas Drake and Michael Fowler Jr.

Five people held in the Crawford County jail have been charged in Kansas in connection with the murder last summer of an elderly couple who were shot to death at a carnival and then transported to Arkansas, where they were buried in a shallow grave in the Ozark National Forest.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced on Friday that capital-murder charges were filed against carnival workers Kimberly Younger, 52, of McIntosh, Fla.; Michael Fowler Jr., 54, of Sarasota, Fla.; and Rusty Frasier, 35, of Aransas Pass, Texas. Bail was set at $1 million each.

A news release from Schmidt's office said Younger also was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, criminal solicitation and theft. Fowler also was charged with theft.

Capital murder in Kansas is punishable by death or life in prison.

Charged each with three counts of obstructing apprehension were Christine Tenney, 38, of Santa Fe, Texas, and Thomas Drake, 31, of Van Buren. Bail for them was set at $10,000 each.

Jennifer Montgomery, a spokesman in Schmidt's office, said in an email Monday that Drake waived extradition to Kansas. The extradition for the other defendants was pending.

J.R. Davis, a spokesman in Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson's office, said no one from Kansas contacted Hutchinson's office Monday about extradition of the suspects.

He said that if the suspects waive extradition, they will be transported to Kansas. If they resist extradition, he said, then the Kansas governor's office must contact the Arkansas governor's office to begin the extradition process.

Crawford County Prosecuting Attorney Marc McCune did not return a call Monday seeking information on the suspects' extradition status.

Younger, Fowler, Frasier and Tenney each were charged in Crawford County Circuit Court in August with two counts of abuse of a corpse, one count of theft by receiving and one count of tampering with physical evidence. Younger, Fowler and Frasier were being held in lieu of $1 million bond on the Arkansas charges; Tenney was being held in lieu of $250,000 bond.

Drake has not been charged in Arkansas in the case. Crawford County jail records show he was arrested on Friday and was being held in lieu of bond on a hold from Kansas.

Younger, Fowler and Frasier are charged in the July 14 deaths of Alfred Carpenter, 78, and Pauline Carpenter, 79, of Wichita, Kan., at a county fair in Great Bend, Kan. Tenney and Drake were accused of aiding the three in concealing the killings, according to the charges filed against them in Barton County District Court on Thursday.

Van Buren police investigation reports said Fowler shot the Carpenters on orders he received in text messages from a person he believed was Frank Zaitchik, a member of a "carnival mafia." The killings were to be an initiation into the carnival mob family, he was reported to have told police.

Police told Fowler that the text messages actually were sent to him by Younger, who was posing as Zaitchik. When Fowler found out it was Younger who ordered the killings, according to the police reports, Fowler said, "I just threw my whole life away."

After the killings, Younger, Fowler and Frasier loaded the bodies into the couple's camper, authorities said. With Tenney, they drove it and the couple's trailer -- used for selling merchandise -- to Van Buren, where, according to the reports, Fowler's daughter lived.

The four and others took the bodies to an area north of Cedarville in the Ozark National Forest and buried them in a dry creek bed, covering them with stones, dirt and wood, before returning to Van Buren, the reports said.

Back in Van Buren, one man told police, Younger made a spaghetti dinner for the group, and they ate and laughed like nothing had happened, a report said.

Authorities said the deception began to unravel on July 18 when the police received a report from a relative of Tenney that she was being held against her will at a Van Buren apartment complex. Van Buren police arrived and began investigating. Unconvinced by the stories they were given and the evidence they found, investigators discovered that the Carpenters had been killed and buried, according to the reports.

The reports said police found costume jewelry that the Carpenters sold at carnivals in the closet in an apartment at the complex where the four were staying.

The Crawford County Sheriff's office recovered the Carpenters' bodies and processed the burial scene off Star Road in the national forest while Van Buren police questioned suspects and witnesses.

Fowler told detectives that on July 14, Younger, posing as Zaitchik, ordered him to kill the Carpenters, according to the reports. Younger helped by luring Alfred Carpenter between his trailer and camper and distracting him, the reports said.

Fowler put Carpenter into a headlock and tried to cut his throat with a knife, according to the reports. When Carpenter fought back, Frasier approached and stabbed Carpenter in the chest, the police reports said. Fowler said he then shot Carpenter and went into the camper and shot Pauline Carpenter as she slept, the reports said.

Police recovered the handgun used to kill the Carpenters when Younger told them where they could find it, the reports said.

State Desk on 12/11/2018

Print Headline: 5 people held in Arkansas face charges in carnival killings; bodies found in shallow grave in state


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