BETHANY — Cody Perez, who was called a person of interest in the killing of Carina Saunders, has been questioned by police and released. He is no longer a person of interest, police chief Phil Cole said.
Saunders, 19, was found dismembered and stuffed into a duffel bag that was found Oct. 13 behind a Homeland store at NW 23 and Rockwell Avenue. She had been beheaded.
Police said culinary arts student Perez, 21, of Oklahoma City was interviewed by Bethany police Sunday at police headquarters.
Perez told investigators that his family members had mistaken the victim for a girl he had brought to their residence. Investigators were able to verify Perez's story and Perez was released.
Cole said investigators think Perez left the state for reasons unrelated to the investigation.
“Perez is no longer being sought as a person of interest,” Cole said.
Monday police confirmed Perez pawned his knife collection at a Bethany pawn shop on Oct. 10, the day Saunders was reported missing to Oklahoma City police by her cousin and mother. But the knives have been tested at an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation laboratory and no links to the crime were found, Cole reports.
Authorities have not determined where Saunders was killed. But Cole said there is no evidence she was killed at the location where her remains were found in Bethany.
In a news release Monday Cole wrote: “Cody Perez became a person of interest based on a family member indicating that they had seen the victim with Perez at their home. The family member had seen the victim's pictures on the news and was positive that Cody had a relationship with her. Investigators developed information that Perez had pawned a set of culinary school knives and had left the Metro area.”