The killing of 19-year-old Carina Saunders, whose dismembered body was found in a duffel bag behind a local grocery store, terrified citizens of a small Oklahoma City-area town and stumped investigators.
Now two men arrested on drug complaints have been implicated in her death. Police believe that these arrests are the beginning of many to follow as they crack connected drug trafficking and prostitution rings. Being held in connection with Saunders's death are Jimmy Lee Massey, 33, and Francisco Gomez, 31.
Both men were arrested on illegal drug trafficking complaints. Carina Saunders name first made headlines when she was identified as the victim of a horrendous killing. She was reported missing to Oklahoma City police and had last been seen on October 8 or 9. On October 13, animal welfare workers managing a colony of feral cats in a field behind a Bethany Homeland store discovered a duffel bag containing human remains.
Saunders was identified on October 17 using dental records. Initially, two young men were considered persons of interest in the killing, but both were cleared. The first, Kyle Tweed was quickly cleared after he went to police to "clear his name." Cody Perez, 21, was suspected in connection with Saunders's death after family members mistakenly identified the victim as a girl he had brought home.
Through a series of coincidences, Perez, a culinary arts student, built suspicion against himself as he sold his knives and left town the day after Saunders was last seen alive. Criminal justice lawyers note that circumstantial evidence means little, even when a person's guilt seems assured in media reports.
Eventually, there was a break in the case, which was being handled by the Bethany Police and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) with support from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Jimmy Massey was arrested after a bad drug deal, in which a man who sold methamphetamine to the suspect went to police in fear for his safety after Massey refused to pay $7,500 for the drugs.
During the questioning of Massey, he admitted to having information about the Saunders murder, and a search warrant was obtained for a cell phone that had text messages related to the killing. Massey also implicated Francisco Gomez in the killing, and Gomez was arrested on complaints of drug trafficking and failure to pay child support.
It is not clear whether either man has hired an Oklahoma City criminal lawyer to represent him. Massey's interview with police has revealed new information about the Saunders case, and an unnamed person has told authorities that she was a witness to the murder. The witness told police that on October 9, she was forced into a car, blindfolded, and taken to an undisclosed location where she was forced to watch as Saunders was tortured and killed.
She was told that the same thing would happen to her if she did not cooperate as demanded in a human trafficking operation. Massey admitted that he abducted the witness and took her to the murder scene. Authorities believe that the arrests of Massey and Gomez are the first in a series of arrests they anticipate as they break open the drug and human trafficking rings in which the two men are suspected of being involved.