4 bodies were pulled from the Oklahoma River during the search for missing cyclists

The bodies of four men were found Friday in a river outside an Oklahoma town where authorities have been searching for four missing men — though it was not clear whether the remains are those of the missing, police said.

Friday’s discovery outside the town of Okmulgee came as police search for four local men who went missing after investigators believe they left an Okmulgee home on bicycles Sunday night.

Still, the city’s police chief told the missing men’s families about the discovery of the remains as a courtesy before alerting the news media, he said.

“The natural (assumption) once the information gets out … would be that their loved ones were found dead,” so he informed them, stressing that he did not know the identities of the bodies, city Police Chief Joe Prentice said in a Friday press conference.

Police have not said how the four dead men died. A medical examiner in Tulsa will perform autopsies and make identification, Prentice said.

Prentice suspects foul play in the deaths of those found in the river, he told CNN on Saturday, but did not elaborate and did not directly answer questions about whether there were signs of trauma.

A passerby called police after seeing something suspicious in a river Friday afternoon outside Okmulgee, a town of about 11,000 people about a 35-mile drive south of Tulsa, Prentice said.

Police arrived and saw remains sticking out of the river, Prentice said. Police initially said they did not know how many bodies there were, but hours later said four male bodies had been removed from the water.

Four friends are reported missing this week

The bodies mark a deeper mystery for police in the eastern Oklahoma city: What happened to four friends who were reported missing from their hometown this week? And if the bodies are not those of these four men, whose are they?

Four men who live in Okmulgee — Mark Chastain, 32; Billy Chastain, 30; Mike Sparks, 32; and Alex Stevens, 29 — were reported missing by relatives Monday night or early Tuesday, Okmulgee police said.

“All four are close friends and are believed to have left Billy Chastain’s home on the west side of Okmulgee” on Sunday, Oct. 9, around 8 p.m. 8 p.m., police said in their initial release.

“All were reportedly on bicycles,” the police statement read, without elaborating on why they had gathered or where they might have intended to go.

At least two men are believed to have mobile phones with them. Police were able to trace the trail to at least one phone east of town and then south, but the phone eventually turned off or lost power, police said.

Data indicates the calls went to two salvage yards — one about 5 miles from the river, and the other about 10 to 12 miles from the river, Prentice told CNN Saturday. The police have not said whether the phones have been found.

Because the phone data was not near the river, “we never considered this (the river) a search area,” he told reporters Friday.

Prentice cautioned that the roads of the telephones did not necessarily have to be the road traveled by the men.

No bikes have been found, Prentice said Saturday.

Police have received reports of sightings of the men after Sunday night, but investigators — including those checking surveillance video in the area — have not confirmed any of them, Prentice told reporters Friday.

CNN’s attempts to reach the Tulsa doctor for comment Saturday were not immediately successful.

CNN Wire & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Leave a Comment