GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — One of several people charged in the deaths of a couple who disappeared from a Kansas county fair has pleaded guilty.
The Great Bend Tribune reports that 54-year-old Michael Fowler Jr., of Sarasota, Florida, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of theft. A capital murder charge was dropped.
The bodies of Alfred “Sonny” Carpenter and Pauline Carpenter of Wichita were discovered in July in shallow graves near Van Buren, Arkansas. Prosecutors say the Carpenters were killed at the Barton County Fair in Kansas, where they were vendors. The suspects worked for the carnival company at the fair.
5NEWS reported in December that Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says charges were filed Dec. 6 and arrest warrants were executed Dec. 7. Those charged with capital murder included 52-year-old Kimberly Younger, of McIntosh, Fla., Michael Fowler, Jr., 54, of Sarasota, Fla. and Rusty Frasier, 35, of Aranas Pass, Texas. Fowler pleaded guilty Monday (March 4).
Two others identified as Christine Tenney, 38, of Santa Fe, Texas and Thomas Drake, 31, of Van Buren, Ark., face charges of obstruction in connection with the case.
In August, Younger, Fowler, Frasier, and Tenney were charged in Crawford County Circuit Court with abuse of a corpse, theft by receiving and tampering with physical evidence in the deaths of both victims.
The Crawford County charges have been dropped so the suspects can face murder charges in Kansas. The suspects have been extradited back to Kansas.
Investigators say one suspect posed as a carnival mafia boss and ordered the other suspects to kill the couple. Police have said the “carnival mafia” does not exist.