Police: Drug arrest leads to potential break in Saunders case

According to court records, Bethany police believe a man charged recently with drug trafficking may be involved in the killing and dismemberment of a 19-year-old girl whose body was found in a duffle bag behind a grocery store in October.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Published: December 1, 2011
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A drug deal gone bad may lead to the first big break in the case of a woman who was found dismembered in a duffle bag behind a grocery store in October, court records show.

According to a search warrant return filed Nov. 23 in Oklahoma County District Court, Bethany police found a cellphone belonging to an accused drug dealer who they believe is involved in the killing of Carina Saunders, 19.

Jimmy Lee Massey, 33, is charged with trafficking in illegal drugs and a variety of other drug charges. An affidavit for a search warrant to obtain an old cellphone of Massey's indicates Massey has told investigators he has information about Saunders' death.

“It has also been determined that Massey has some involvement in not only the selling of large quantities of drugs, but by his own statements during interview and interrogation has considerable information in regards to the homicide and dismemberment of Carina Saunders,” the affidavit states. “It is believed that there will be information on the phone in the form of (text) messages.”

Bethany Police Chief Phil Cole declined to comment on the progress of the case, saying the investigation is at a “sensitive point.”

Saunders' body was found Oct. 13 in a duffel bag behind the Homeland grocery store at NW 23 and Rockwell Avenue in Bethany. Police said they were stymied early in the investigation because of a strange circle of friends and potential witnesses, many of whom are connected to drugs.

Drug task force helps

The potential break in the case came from a joint drug task force including both Bethany and Oklahoma City police. According to an affidavit filed in the case against Massey, a man involved in a drug deal between Massey and a supplier for eight ounces of methamphetamine went to police after he became worried he was in danger because Massey failed to pay the agreed $7,500 for the drugs.

Police arrested Massey and four others and charged them with five drug offenses, including trafficking. Police did not say what Massey told them that makes them believe he is involved in Saunders' death.

Attempts to reach Saunders' family by telephone Wednesday were unsuccessful. A friend and former neighbor of Saunders said it was clear during her final months that she was having problems with methamphetamine.

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