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Bethany police contact woman thought to have video of Carina Saunders' killing

Bethany, OK, detectives identify a woman thought to have a copy of a video of Carina Saunders' killing, but she didn't show for an interview out of fear. A laptop, zip drives, mobile phones and cameras were recovered from a motel where she was staying.
by Tim Willert Modified: July 10, 2012 at 9:31 pm •  Published: July 10, 2012

/articleid/3691299/1/pictures/1771297">Photo - Mindy Cottier, shown last year
Mindy Cottier, shown last year

The room was rented to a felon named Christopher Banschbach, 26, who was inside with an unidentified female, the detective reported. A handgun was lying on the bed in plain view, the detective reported.

When police entered the room, the unidentified woman asked why she was being detained, and Orefice replied “because there is a gun, and probably methamphetamine, inside the room.”

Officers found a trace amount of “tannish powder” on a nightstand, and several hundred dollars in Banschbach's pants pocket, the affidavit shows.

Banschbach was arrested and booked on several complaints, including trafficking, possession of drug proceeds and possession of a firearm after a previous conviction. He was being held Tuesday at the Oklahoma County jail with bail set at $49,500, a jail official said.

Banschbach, according to court documents, has three felony convictions in Oklahoma County for possession of methamphetamine. One of those convictions, a 2010 case, includes a possession of meth with intent to distribute.

The Bethany police chief would not say whether Cottier or the other woman in the motel room was arrested. Cottier was not booked into the Bethany or Oklahoma County jails in the past week, jail officials said Tuesday.

It was unclear Tuesday whether Cottier has dealings with any of the other suspects in the murder case, or whether Banschbach was an associate of the suspects.

Last week, Bethany police arrested Luis E. Ruiz, 37, of Oklahoma City, on a murder complaint in Saunders' murder.

Police have previously said they were considering suspects who had been jailed on charges of drug and human trafficking.

A confidential witness told police she was kidnapped and forced to watch as members of a human trafficking ring tortured and murdered Saunders to send a message to others to cooperate with their illegal activities.

In December 2011, Francisco Gomez, 32, and Jimmy Lee Massey, 33, were named as persons of interest in connection with Saunders' death. Both men remain in the Oklahoma County jail.

According to court records, Massey admitted to kidnapping a woman and making her watch as Saunders was tortured and killed Oct. 9. Massey also described how Saunders' body was dismembered and left in a field behind the Homeland grocery store at NW 23 and Rockwell Avenue.

Contributing: Staff Writers Nolan Clay and Andrew Knittle has disabled the comments for this article.
by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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