Jarron Moreland and Alize Smith, two African-American men, were murdered, dismembered, chained, and thrown into a pond in Oklahoma, authorities say, and they’ve accused four members of a local white family of being involved in the slayings and/or their aftermath.
The racial dynamic has led some people to call murders a “modern day lynching” on social media, although authorities said they don’t think the men’s race was the motive for their murders, which allegedly stemmed from a botched Craig’s List deal involving a gun. The two victims, who were both only 21-years-old, were reported missing by loved ones in April 2018. According to The Associated Press, the bodies “were found dismembered and chained to cinder blocks in an Oklahoma City pond.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Four Members of an Oklahoma Family Were Accused in Connection With the Gruesome Deaths
The suspects under arrest in the double homicide are three members of the same family and the boyfriend of the family’s matriarch. The two victims were shot before they were dismembered and tossed in the pond, authorities believe.
Authorities allege that they found the van used in the shooting at the family’s home. The scene was grisly. They allegedly found “cleaning products and a power washer around the vehicle,” “dried blood spatter on the ceiling of the van” and “a bucket of water with a chainsaw bar inside and soaking in the water along with several jigsaw blades,” court documents obtained by ABC11 allege.
Authorities have accused Kevin Garcia-Boettler, 22; Garcia-Boettler’s 16-year-old brother, Brett Boettler; their mother, Crystal Rachelle Boettler, 40; and Johnny Shane Barker, 43, in connection with the men’s deaths. Barker is the boyfriend of Crystal Boettler, according to KFOR-TV.
According to ABC 7, the teen is accused of being the shooter, and the mother was charged with allegedly being an accessory after the fact.
Mooreland and Smith were missing for four days when their bodies were discovered, the AP reported, adding that the murders occurred in Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City. Barker, the brothers’ mother’s boyfriend, is accused of helping the two “remove the bodies, cover them with tarps, and attached cinder blocks around them with chains before dumping them in a lake,” reported ABC 11. It was alleged the victims’ clothes were removed.
2. The Slayings Allegedly Occurred During a ‘Craigslist Deal Gone Bad’
Alize Smith and Jarron Moreland disappeared “after a shooting in the parking lot of a Crest Foods near 12th Street and Eastern Avenue,” reported ABC 11. The two brothers accused in the crime “arranged a meeting over Craigslist to buy a gun from Smith and Moreland,” AP reports. It quickly went south.
“The brothers told police they thought one of the victims was racking a gun and turned around and shot them several times,” KFOR-TV alleged.
“There was apparently going to be a sale of a gun, possibly off of Craigslist when the two victims entered the vehicle,” said Moore Police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis. “The suspects claimed they heard a gun being racked or cocked. At that point, one of those individuals fired at the two victims that entered the van and killed them both at that time.”
A GoFundMe page established to help Moreland’s family says it all started with the Craigslist deal. “hello. as you may already know, my brother Jarron and another individual by the name of Alize Smith were murdered and abducted as the result of what I, myself, would call a cold blooded unnecessary craigslist deal ‘gone wrong.'” the summary on the GoFundMe page states.
The brother wrote that Moreland was a young father. “My brothers funeral was April 28th, just two days after his son Jarron Jr.’s 6th birthday. His funeral has been paid for by some sort of victims fund provided to us by the state of Oklahoma. At this point the only thing we as a family are worried about is taking care of Jarron Jr. in Jarron Sr.’s absence. Anything helps and everything is appreciated, Thank you for your time and if you choose to donate, thank you for your donation,” he wrote.
3. The Prosecutor Doesn’t Plan to Seek Race-Related Charges & Moreland’s Mother Says the Murder ‘Ripped My Heart Out’
Cleveland County prosecutor Greg Mashburn told the Associated Press that “he does not plan to seek additional charges related to race.”
“We definitely explored that, and the evidence absolutely shows that this was not racially motivated,” Mashburn told the wire service.
That’s not the theme on Twitter, though, where people are referring to the homicides as a lynching. That’s not a term authorities have attached to the case, though.
The deaths have left behind grieving families. “When it first happened, I told the detective that if my son don’t call me by a certain time, my son is hurt bad or he is dead,” Kennetha Moreland, the mother of one of the two victims, told KFOR-TV.
Jarron and Alize were tortured, she believes, and she told the television station, “Felt like somebody ripped my heart out of my chest.”
4. Alize Was Remembered as ‘the Sweetest Person You Could Wish For’
Loved ones also paid tribute to Alize Ramon Smith. “He was the sweetest person you could wish for,” said Alivia Smith, Alize’s 12-year-old sister, to News9. “He was the best person to me.”
Raquel Hall, Alize Smith’s aunt, also commemorated Alize to News9, saying, “He had this goofy laugh that we all still can see and hear. And we want people to know that he really tried. He had a few problems in his life but he had a great support system and we were all there for him.”
Alize’s great aunt wrote on Facebook to the many people offering support, “Thank you all for the outpouring of support and prayers. Much needed and appreciated. We can feel the prayers of so many being lifted for our family.”
5. Members of the Suspect Family Have Prior Contacts With the Criminal Justice System
Johnny Shane Barker has a criminal history in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, according to court records. In 2006, he was convicted of second-degree burglary and drug offenses. He described himself as “self-employed” on Facebook.
Kevin Garcia-Boettler also has a past drug case in that county from 2015. Court records say the disposition was deferred.
Crystal Boettler, who was born in 1978, was previously accused of multiple counts of violation of the compulsory education act (truancy). Fourteen charges are listed in the court records; they all resulted in acquittal or dismissal. The court records, from 2011, state, “COURT BELIEVES STATE SHOULD OFFER PROOF BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT AS TO DEFENDANT’S WILLFUL FAILURE TO CAUSE OR COMPEL MINOR CHILD TO ATTEND AND COMPLY WITH SCHOOLS RULES) IN THIS CASE MINOR CHILD IS CLEARLY BEYOND THIS DEFENDANT’S PARENTAL CONTROL.”
“My Mom and Me. I Love You!!” Kevin Garcia-Boettler wrote with a photo of him with his mother.
She was also accused of being a meth dealer in 2009, but the charge was dismissed upon request of the state.
A second drug charge involving PCP in that case resulted in a deferred disposition. There are other cases under a different first name with Crystal Boettler listed as the alias in Oklahoma court records.
On Facebook, Brett Boettler, 16, who listed himself as being in high school, shared a video of a cartoon character shooting an airsoft gun and also shared a video of an Oklahoma police chase. The victims also had some prior contacts with the criminal justice system. A bench warrant was issued for Smith in a drug case that was pending at the time of his death; he was to have been sentenced in that case in April. Moreland was convicted of possessing a firearm in 2015.