By LaShauna Sewell, News9.com
BETHANY, Oklahoma – Bethany Police made two major announcements Tuesday afternoon in the investigation into Carina Saunders' murder: they've made an arrest and they're looking for a person of interest who may have vital information in the case.
Police arrested 33-year-old Jimmy Lee Massey Tuesday morning on a complaint of first-degree murder in the 19-year-old woman's death. He was also arrested on complaints of kidnapping and assault and battery for the abduction of an unknown witness. Massey was already being held in the Oklahoma County jail on drug trafficking charges when police executed the arrest warrant.
During a news conference at the Bethany Police Department, investigators announced they were also looking for Francisco Gomez, a person of interest in the case. They are not calling him a suspect, but they believe Gomez has important information about Saunders' murder.
This information came after police released a probable cause affidavit against Massey. It revealed a woman had been forced to watch the torture and murder of Saunders.
Saunders' dismembered body was found in October stuffed in a duffel bag behind a Homeland grocery store in Bethany. During the investigation, police learned there may have been a witness to her murder. They managed to locate the woman who told them on the night of October 9, she was standing on the street outside of a northwest Oklahoma City house when a man drove up in a vehicle, opened the door, and forced her inside.
The woman said a man blindfolded her with a dark handkerchief and drove her to an unknown location. She told police she was taken to a room and forced to watch the torture of a woman. She said she didn't know who the victim was until the woman was later identified on the news as Carina Saunders.
The woman said the people who tortured Saunders later told her to tell her associates that "this is what happens to people who don't cooperate." Police said they believe the woman was working with drug and human traffickers, but wasn't doing something they wanted her to do. They believe Saunders' torture and death was intended as a message.
Police, however, do not believe Saunders was involved in illegal activities. They say she may have been a random target because she was loosely associated with people in the drug and human trafficking organizations.
The woman was released after she was forced to watch Saunders' murder. She later called friends to come and pick her up.
Police contacted the friends who were with the woman after she witnessed the torture. They confirmed she was in a state of extreme shock and had bruises on both arms in the shape of fingers and hands.
According to court documents, police determined Massey was the man who kidnapped the witness. Bethany police also learned that Massey was the focus of large narcotics investigation by Oklahoma City Police. On November 4, police arrested Massey on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges.
Bethany Police say the investigation continues because they believe there are still several people involved with Saunders' death who have not been caught yet.