Carina Saunders’ Parents: Renewed Sense of Hope
BETHANY, Oklahoma - The parents of Carina Saunders, 19, have been in anguish for seven years.
Their daughter was found dismembered in duffle bags behind the grocery store at Northwest 23rd Street and Rockwell Avenue in Bethany, October 13, 2011.
Her parents had reported her missing to authorities just shy of two weeks before that dreadful day.
“She could do nothing so horrible in her life to deserve something like this,” said Margie Queen, Carina’s mother.
Carina, a 2010 Mustang High School graduate, had barely been out on her own before the killing.
Bethany Police began interviewing anyone she’d come into contact with during that time.
The investigation revealed that Carina was last seen getting into a red pickup truck outside of the Newcastle Casino on October 8 — against her friends warning.
Neither a driver or passenger have been identified, to date.
“There’s always been speculation as to how, and where, and when,” said her father, Richard Saunders.
He and the rest of the family have done plenty of their own investigating throughout the years as several witness statements have failed to be corroborated with physical evidence.
Investigators remarked early on that Carina Saunders was taken to an abandoned house in Oklahoma City and tortured while several people watched.
The Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy of her mutilated body and determined that she suffered a “violent death”.
Witnesses claim the murder was captured on video and viewed by some on a cell phone; however, the video has never surfaced.
In 2012, Bethany Police arrested Luis Enrique Ruiz and Jimmy Lee Massey Jr. for Saunders’ murder.
Prosecutors charged them with First Degree Murder only to drop the charges several months later due to a “lack of evidence”.
“It is painful to think about,” said Richard Saunders.
The problems with the investigation forced the state to take over the case.
More than a year after the crime was committed the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation began re-interviewing witnesses and running down leads.
The OSBI said the case lacked physical evidence to corroborate the witnesses accounts.
In 2016, five years into the investigation, the OSBI posted a $10,000 reward for the rumored video of Carina’s murder.
“We haven’t been able to verify whether there is or is not a video,” said Special Agent Steve Tanner.
He also assured the case is still actively investigated, far being considered a cold case.
“We get leads frequently, just the other day my agent was tracking down a lead on the case,” said Tanner.
Saunders’ parents remain hopeful the OSBI will solve the case, and soon, but there is a renewed since of hope for the family this year.
“When he said that he wanted to donate $50,000 for a reward, I was shocked,” Queen says, at first, she thought the anonymous caller — a complete stranger — was kidding,” then, he said he’d followed the case closely and was deeply touched and that we needed justice”
Queen graciously agreed to keep his contribution anonymous and disperse fliers advertising the reward.
The anonymous donor is offering $50,000 for the rumored video of Carina’s killing, or $30,000 for irrefutable proof of the identity of her killers.
“I think I say the same thing every year… be fearless, step out and do the right thing,” Queen said she thinks it could actually happen this time.
The reward will expire at the end of October.
The donor, who lives in another state, tells News 9 that if no one comes forward with the video or information then the money will be used to hire a private investigator.
“If nothing comes from that, then we'll hire 10 [private investigators]. If nothing comes from that, then we'll hire 20,” said the donor, “The people that did this should know that their days of being comfortable and their days of thinking they got away with it and that it's forgotten should end immediately."
Carina’s father, Richard says he is hopeful that someday he will get the opportunity to shake the donor’s hand and thank him for the commitment to solving the case.
In the meantime, the family has been disseminating thousands of fliers around Oklahoma City.
“We’re gonna hit every avenue, every alley, every angle we can to get the word out,” said Richard.
Dozens of volunteers met in Downtown Oklahoma City on Sunday, October 7. They intend to continue spreading the word through the month’s end.
“It brings out a new sense of hope,” Richard says, “these people that we have waited to come forward have maybe cleaned up and grown up.”
The donor says after he receives the video and verifies it’s authentic, he will pay the $50,000 and forward it to OSBI.
To donor’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The OSBI said it will take any information garnered from the latest efforts and work to independently verify it.
“Come forward, talk to us, and gives a chance to try to help or resolve the fears that you have and try to corroborate the information,” said Steve Tanner.
The OSBI tip line is 1-800-522-8017.