VAN BUREN, Ark. — An Arkansas judge has dismissed local charges against four carnival workers suspected in the deaths of a retired couple in Kansas.
Investigators said one suspect texted the others posing as a carnival mafia boss and ordered them to kill the couple. The suspects were originally charged in Arkansas with abuse of a corpse and other crimes after the couple’s bodies were found in shallow graves in a national forest in Arkansas.
Prosecutors asked that the Arkansas charges be dropped because the suspects had been extradited to Kansas, where capital murder charges were filed earlier this month, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported . A Crawford County judge granted the motion last week.
The suspects are Kimberly Younger, 52, and Michael Fowler Jr., 54, both of Florida and Rusty Frasier, 35, and Christine Tenney, 38, of Texas.
All but Tenney are charged with capital murder in Kansas for the July deaths of retired couple Alfred Carpenter, 78, and Pauline Carpenter, 79. The couple sold crafts and trinkets at carnivals, using a trailer behind their camper vehicle to transport the items.
Police allege that Fowler shot the Carpenters at the Baxter County Fair in Great Bend, Kansas. Investigators say he told police he killed the couple after receiving text messages from someone named Frank Zaitchik, a man he believed to be a member of a “carnival mafia.” Police said they later discovered the text messages were sent by Younger.
Younger, Fowler, Frasier and Tenney were arrested in Van Buren, Arkansas, on July 19 after a Tenney’s relative called local police to report she was being held against her will. The homicide investigation unfolded from there.
A fifth suspect, Thomas Drake, also faces charges in Kansas. He and Tenney are accused of helping the other three suspects even though they knew the trio had killed the couple.