BETHANY — As family and friends remembered the short life of Carina Saunders, investigators on Friday released no new information on the killing of the 19-year-old, whose body was found stuffed in duffel bag behind a grocery store.
A memorial service for Saunders brought out hundreds to Mustang Church of the Nazarene in the city where Saunders sang in the varsity choir and graduated from high school in 2010.
Police confirmed Monday that a body found Oct. 13 in a field near the Homeland at NW 23 and Rockwell was Saunders'.
She last was seen a few days before her body was discovered.
Cody Perez, 21, of Oklahoma City, has been called a person of interest by the Bethany Police Department.
On his Facebook page, Carina's father, Richard Saunders, spoke harshly of how his daughter's life ended. He said it's a cruel world that allowed Carina to make the news for being killed while her killer “becomes famous.”
“She never even got to experience life, or ask what it was all about,” he said. “She was supposed to make a name for herself and leave her mark on society ... I love you and miss you baby girl.”
Saunders' obituary lists a host of family members and refers to her as “dear little one,” and, “the most beautiful baby (who) grew to be a sweet, calm, and loving child.”
Person of interest
Bethany Police Chief Phil Cole released a statement late Friday stating police still are conducting interviews and want to talk to Perez. Officials have named no suspects, and no arrests warrants have been issued.
KWTV-News 9 has reported Perez sold culinary knives to an anonymous pawnshop employee in Bethany for $50 about 1:30 p.m. Oct. 10, the day his mother told investigators she last saw her son.
In a missing persons report filed Oct. 17, Perez's mother also said her son left behind a paycheck at an Oklahoma City Olive Garden where he worked.
Perez last was seen wearing a blue and white culinary uniform with checkered pants. He was carrying a black knife case and wore a black chef hat, a white jacket and black shoes.
He was last spotted near Interstate 35 and Robinson Street in Norman. Investigators speculate he may have been trying to hitchhike to California.
Agent says FBI is not searching for Perez
Oklahoma City-based FBI Special Agent Clay Simmonds said the bureau isn't actively involved in searching for Perez at this point.
“We got our behavioral analysis unit and the Bethany PD together to possibly work on a profile and hopefully develop leads through that process,” Simmonds said. “But unless he is charged with some federal crimes or we have reason to believe he's fled Oklahoma after he's charged with a crime here, then we don't have jurisdiction to search for him.”
Until those things happen, Simmonds said the FBI won't have much of a role in the investigation.
“Bethany PD and our behavioral analysis unit will work together, but we'll stay out of it until we do have jurisdiction,” he said.
Anyone with information about the case should contact the Bethany Police Department at 789-2323