Three people have been charged with capital murder after a fake “carnival mafia” killed a couple at a Kansas county fair this summer, police said.
The vendors who were shot and killed — Pauline and Alfred “Sonny” Carpenter, of Wichita — were selling handmade crafts at the Barton County Fair before they were found buried near the Natural Dam in the Ozark National Forest in Arkansas, The Associated Press reported.
The Wichita Eagle previously reported that investigators believed the couple were murdered in a camper before they were buried in the shallow grave. The grave was covered with a mattress.
Now about five months later, the Kansas attorney general released that three people have been charged with capital murder in connection to the couple’s killing: 52-year-old Kimberly Younger, of McIntosh, Florida; 54-year-old Michael Fowler Jr., of Sarasota, Florida; and 35-year-old Rusty Frasier, of Aransas Pass, Texas.
Police in Van Buren, Arkansas, say that after the carnival rides were closed on July 14, the couple were killed by violent carnies, according to a police report obtained by The Washington Post.
The following messages were obtained by police after the alleged killings, and reported by the Post:
“it’s done their dead,” Fowler wrote in a Facebook message at about 2:30 a.m. that night.
“Good Job, now get out,” Frank Zaitchik replied.
“I am trying to calm down right now,” Fowler said.
“Deep Breaths,” Zaitchik replied. “The 1st is always the hardest. Jen sent me pictures of the man. I sent onto the heads of council. War is over.”
But police said there was no war, heads of council or a “Frank Zaitchik,” according to the Post. Rather, Zaitchik’s Facebook account was ran by Younger.
Arkansas police initially said the murders were ordered by a carnival worker posing as a mafia member, the AP previously reported.
Van Buren police spokesman Jonathan Wear told the AP in an email that the mafia was something that Younger “definitely made up.”
The killings, though, were part of an initiation into the “carnival mob family,” Fowler told police, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Fowler also told police that he thought the messages ordering him to kill the couple really were from a “Frank Zaitchik,” the Democrat-Gazette reported. When he found out it was Younger behind it all, he told police, “I just threw my whole life away,” the newspaper reported. Fowler also said he was “suckered” into killing, the AP reported.
After the Carpenters were killed, they were loaded into their own camper and taken to Van Buren, the Democrat-Gazette reported. That’s about 16 miles south of where they were buried, and about 420 miles away from the Kansas county where they died.
Two others, 38-year-old Christine Tenney, of Santa Fe, and 31-year-old Thomas Drake, of Van Buren — were charged with obstructing apprehension in connection to the carnival killings, according to a release from the attorney general’s office.