OKMULGEE, Okla. — Family members of three of the four men who disappeared and were later found killed in a river earlier this month have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the person of interest in the case, Joseph Kennedy, and his wife, Sandra Kennedy.
FOX23 obtained a copy of the suit, filed in an Okmulgee County court Tuesday morning.
The suit names Megan Gordon, Jessica Chastain and Karen Sparks as plaintiffs, on behalf of their relatives Billy Chastain, Mark Chastain and Mike Sparks respectively. The relatives are being represented by Robert Seacat. He said the petition is holding Joseph responsible for the three deaths.
“There’s a lot of circumstantial evidence at this point that points to Joseph Kennedy as the perpetrator and causing the deaths of these individuals,” said Seacat.
The petition alleges Joseph “knowingly caused the death of Billy Chastain, Mark Anthony Chastain and Mikel Tyrel Sparks,” earlier this month.
FOX23 has reported extensively since Mark Chastain, Billy Chastain, Alex Stevens, and Mike Sparks disappeared from Okmulgee earlier this month.
GPS records traced one of the men’s cell phones to two separate salvage yards in Okmulgee, owned by Joseph, in the hours after they disappeared.
After several days of searching, authorities found the four men’s bodies dismembered in the Deep Fork River. Police also said they found “evidence of a violent incident” in one of Joseph’s salvage yards. At that time, Okmulgee police named Joseph a person of interest.
Okmulgee police also announced that Joseph had been reported missing. He was later found in Florida, driving a stolen car.
Though no criminal charges have been filed on Joseph, and police have not named him a suspect in the murder case, Seacat said the evidence that has come out is enough for him to be sure. He said Joseph’s abrupt disappearance spoke volumes.
“He left. He went missing himself, and apparently he was arrested in Florida in a stolen vehicle. Those are the actions, in my opinion, of someone with a guilty mind that knows they’ve committed a crime and they’re trying to avoid that,” said Seacat.
The petition is demanding $75,000 in damages for each plaintiff and calls for a temporary injunction so both Joseph and Sandra wouldn’t be able to liquidate assets.
Seacat said the injunction is the only reason Sandra is listed on the filing, and she is not being considered in the wrongful death allegations.
“I have no information whatsoever that she has any involvement or complicity in the murders themselves. The only reason she’s listed as a defendant was to gain person jurisdiction over her so that the injunction could be directed at her as well,” he said.
Court records show Sandra filed for divorce on Oct. 19, the same day police in Florida arrested her husband. Seacat said that filing made him move quickly.
“Normally, I probably wouldn’t have filed as quickly as I did, but on the 19th Sandra Kennedy filed a petition for dissolution of marriage, and in that filing she alleged that she should be awarded all of their real estate holdings,” said Seacat.
The divorce filing said Sandra and Joseph had “purchased several parcels of real property in Okmulgee and McIntosh counties,” and “all right title and interest in said real property should be granted to [Sandra.]”
The wrongful death lawsuit also alleges sometime after the four men were reported missing, Joseph and Sandra “sold all of the assets of a dumpster business they owned and operated to D.C. Hauling in Morris, Oklahoma.”
The suit claims Joseph went missing shortly after that sale.
D.C. Hauling confirmed with FOX23 they did buy four containers and one truck from Joseph Friday, Oct. 14. They said they wrote two checks for Joseph, one for $9,500 and one for $5,500.
D.C. Hauling said the deal was a normal business deal, and they had no knowledge at the time of any criminal matters that Joseph was involved with.
Seacat explained, “If I let this man and his family liquidate all his assets, there won’t be any compensation. There won’t be any justice for [the families]. So that’s why I filed as quickly as I did, and why I sought and acquired this temporary injunction.”
On Tuesday, an Okmulgee District Court judge sustained the request for a temporary injunction, writing “there is sufficient, credible information provided to the Court that demonstrates that the Defendants have sold property and have attempted to convey substantial amounts of property in an effort to avoid the Plaintiff’s claims.”
Blaine Frierson, Sandra’s attorney, said he will fight the injunction.
“We don’t believe the injunction is appropriate. She is half owner of the businesses, and she’s carrying them on in day-to-day activity,” said Frierson.
He went on, “We vehemently deny all allegations in the petition to my client as being patently false, and if we have to go to court, we’ll prove that in court.”
Frierson plans to work with Seacat or take legal action regarding the injunction
“I’m hopeful to work that out with the attorney. I’ve known him a long time, and if not, we’ll file a motion to dismiss in Okmulgee County District Court next week,” he said.
The lawsuit originally alleged in the filing that Sandra pawned numerous guns to a local pawn shop just after Joseph’s arrest. Seacat told FOX23 that his office believed this because the loved one of the deceased thought they recognized a gun that the pawnshop had posted on social media.
Seacat explained that the loved one thought the gun belonged to the deceased. Law enforcement confirmed to Seacat Tuesday that the gun in question does not belong to the deceased and was not sold to the shop by Sandra.
Seacat said he will amend the petition and take out any language about the guns and the pawn shop.
A hearing for the temporary injunction is set for Nov. 4.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with the latest information. All the information in previous versions of this article was taken directly from court documents, which Seacat said will be amended.
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