Lisa Monahan, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Police cleared a second person of interest in the murder investigation of 19-year-old Carina Saunders, and now Saunders' parents are pleading for someone to come forward in this case.
Police found Saunders body stuffed in a duffle bag in Bethany on October 13. They said Cody Perez is no longer wanted in connection to this case. But investigators said they are not ruling out anyone.
"We have to go where the evidence or our information leads us," said Chief Phil Cole with the Bethany Police Department.
Chief Cole said tips lead them to Perez. The family of Perez reported him missing on October 10th the day after Carina Saunders was last seen alive. Perez's mother told investigators she believed Perez was trying to help Saunders before she went missing.
Police said before they talked with Perez, they received information Perez sold a set of culinary knives at a pawn shop and then headed out of town. Investigators said Perez contacted them from Arizona on Sunday, October 23 when he found out police wanted to talk to him.
Police said Perez told detectives he did not know Saunders and left town for unrelated reason.
"Based on what our investigators uncovered yesterday that was a coincidence that he was leaving town for personal reasons dealing with his family," Chief Cole said.
Police said Perez's story checked out and they did not find any traces of blood on the knives Perez sold to the pawn shop. Now police are turning their attention to a list of other individual.
"The information that we have up to this point leads us to it was a known associated to the victim," Chief Cole said.
Police said they have secured dozens of pieces of evidence and will pursue new leads.
"We have several names that we are following up on, right now we are not putting them out as persons of interest," Chief Cole said.
But police said they will do so if people stop cooperating with the investigation. Saunders' father, Richard Saunders, told News 9 they are holding strong in their belief that someone will be brought to justice soon.
Richard Saunders provided the following statement:
"My little girl of 19 years , has left this cruel world . For a front row seat at this Rodeo we call life . She was a free spirit full of life , never leaving anyone without a smile . She was vibrant , funny and just full of joy . My little girl just had that ability to put a smile on your face . She may not have been very big , but could always find a way to lift you up no matter how far down you had fallen . Yea she probably may have made some poor choices , but I ask you which one of us left here in her stead , Whether you are family , friends , or foe , can honestly say that we were perfect ? This still doesn't constitute the right to destroy her life , or take her away from her family and friends . Foe you will be sought out and dealt with in a manner that is most fitting for your crime against our Creator . There will be justice one day soon we all pray for our little Carina . Please we need any and all help leading to the capture and conviction of the person or persons in connection to this heinous crime."
Saunders' mother is also pleading for someone to come forward on a Facebook page called " Carina Come Home."
"If anyone out there knows or has heard anything that might be pertinent to ultimately finding this killer/killers, PLEASE let the Bethany PD know; no matter how small or insignificant the information may be!! I am crying out to you as a mother and please if the person responsible is reading this, I plead with you to turn yourself in. The Bethany PD # is 789-2323."