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'Flawed' police work prompts Oklahoma County DA to drop charges in Carina Saunders slaying

Unsubstantiated accounts of Carina Saunders' slaying led prosecutors to dismiss case against Jimmy Lee Massey Jr. and Luis E. Ruiz. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is now handling the case.
by Tim Willert Published: March 4, 2013

/articleid/3760630/1/pictures/1967255">Photo - Carina Saunders Her remains were found in 2011 in Bethany.
Carina Saunders Her remains were found in 2011 in Bethany.

“It wouldn't be appropriate now that OSBI is handling the case,” he said.

Bethany police detectives Jack Jencks and Austin Warfield did not return calls for comment.

Jencks wrote the affidavit filed with Ruiz's murder charge.

The document revealed that a witness named Michelle Hanshaw told investigators she accompanied Saunders to a home on South Harvey and watched Ruiz beat Saunders, tie her to a table and torture her by sawing off her left foot and then trying to cut off her right foot before the saw broke.

Hanshaw said she then jumped out of a window to escape after witnessing the killing.

Jencks wrote in Massey's affidavit that a witness named Tia Downour said she was at the location before the killing occurred — a two-story house at 3500 S Harvey.

She said she left shortly after Saunders arrived with Hanshaw.

The locations on the affidavits differ.

“Neither one of them said it happened at the same house,” a source said. “If Michelle and Tia were there at the same time, why didn't they have the same address?”

Downour also told detectives she saw a video of the killing on Ruiz's cellphone and recognized him “as the person in the video cutting off the foot of Saunders,” according to Ruiz's affidavit.

Lack of corroboration

The account of Saunders' torture, however, appears to contradict details in the state medical examiner's report, a source said.

Jencks writes in Ruiz's affidavit that “injuries to body found during autopsy match injuries described by Hanshaw,” including ligature marks across the shins.

“Nowhere does it talk about ligature marks, nowhere does it talk about tool marks, which would be left by a saw,” a source said. “It doesn't say that because nobody ever saw that.”

Massey is said to have shared details of the slaying with two detainees while jailed on drug charges, according to the affidavit filed with his murder charge.

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

“His story was never corroborated,” a source said. “These guys had nothing to do with it.”

Adams said getting to the bottom of what happened is going to be “extremely difficult” now that so much time has passed since Saunders' remains were discovered.

Having a fresh set of eyes take a look at the case will be beneficial, he said. 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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