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One of four people charged in Crawford County with dumping the bodies of a slain elderly Kansas couple pretended to be a member of a carnival mafia who ordered the killings and guided the disposal of the bodies, according to police.

Reports from an investigation by Van Buren police detectives say Kimberly Younger posed as a member of the carnival mafia named Frank Zaitchik and ordered others by text messages to kill Alfred Carpenter, 78, and Pauline Carpenter, 79, of Wichita, Kan., on July 14 on the fairgrounds at Great Bend, Kan.

Carnival workers Younger, 52, of Aransas Pass, Texas; Michael Fowler, 54, of Lake City, Fla.; Rusty Frasier, 35, of Aransas Pass, Texas; and Christine Tenney, 37, of Santa Fe, Texas, each were charged this week in Crawford County Circuit Court with two counts of abuse of a corpse, one count of theft by receiving and one count of tampering with physical evidence.

Younger, Fowler and Frasier were being held in the county jail in lieu of $1 million bond. Tenney was being held in lieu of $250,000 bond. All four have pleaded innocent and are being represented by a public defender, according to court records.

Under questioning by detectives, Fowler said he was ordered through text messages from Zaitchik to kill the Carpenters as an initiation into the carnival mafia, according to the reports. Zaitchik also told Fowler and others by text messages to clean the inside of the trailer where Pauline Carpenter had been killed and to dispose of the bodies.

Fowler told detectives that while Younger, who initially was known to the detectives as Myrna Kahn, distracted Alfred Carpenter, Fowler grabbed Carpenter in a headlock and tried to cut his throat. When Carpenter fought back, Fowler said, Frasier stepped in and stabbed Carpenter in the chest.

Fowler then shot Carpenter twice in the head with a 9mm pistol, which police have found, and went into the couple's camper trailer and shot Pauline Carpenter twice in the head as she slept, according to the report.

Before the interview with Fowler, detectives had discovered from examining Younger's cellphone that she had a Facebook page in the name of Frank Zaitchik, according to reports.

When detectives informed Fowler that the orders to kill the Carpenters had come from Younger posing as Zaitchik, Fowler responded that Younger had "suckered" him in and that "I just threw my whole life away," the report said.

The four loaded the Carpenters' bodies into a camper and drove it and the trailer the Carpenters used for selling merchandise to Van Buren where Fowler's daughter lived, according to the report.

They got rid of the Carpenters' bodies by placing them in a creek bed off Star Road north of Cedarville in Crawford County and piling rocks and wood on top of them, the report said.

The effort to conceal the slayings began to unravel shortly after the Carpenters were buried when Tenney's sister-in-law in Wichita, Kan., informed Van Buren police that Tenney had called and told her she had been kidnapped by three people who had murdered an elderly couple and that she was being held against her will at a Van Buren apartment complex.

No charges had been filed in Kansas as of Wednesday, according to the Kansas attorney general's office. A statement from that office said the Barton County sheriff's office, the Great Bend Police Department and the Barton County attorney's office were conducting the investigation.

At the request of the Barton County attorney, any criminal prosecution resulting from the investigation would be handled by the Kansas attorney general's office, the statement said.

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State Desk on 08/16/2018

Print Headline: Text ordered elderly pair killed, authorities report; Carnival mafia initiation a ploy, report finds

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