Oklahoma police are offering a $10,000 reward for a video they believe depicts the gruesome murder of a 19-year-old woman.
Carina Saunders was found dead behind a Bethany grocery store in October 2011. Her dismembered body was stuffed in a duffel bag, authorities say.
Five years later, state cops are still hunting her killer in a cold case they initially said was linked to drugs and a human trafficking ring.
“No one deserves to die—especially in that manner,” said Stan Florence, director of Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, at a press conference Wednesday.
According to cops, multiple witnesses claimed to have seen a video of Saunders’s murder but no one has provided a copy of it. Police are offering a $10,000 reward for the video, on the device where it is stored.
“We have strong reason to believe that video still exists,” Florence said, but declined to provide more details on what the video contained.
Saunders’s mother, Margie Queen, told reporters her family “will never give up until justice is served.”
“I appeal to those of you out there watching right now, who were there when my daughter took her last breath… to please come forth with that information and help this case,” she said.
Relatives last spoke to Saunders on Sept. 28, 2011, cops say.
On Oct. 8, witnesses saw Saunders get into a red pickup truck at Newcastle Casino. Authorities say they want to identify the driver, who had tattoo sleeves on both arms, and other passengers in the vehicle.
Before Saunders got into the truck, a group of girls in a nearby car “were pleading with Carina not to go with them,” Florence said.
“We don’t know who those girls were,” he added. “We’d like to talk to them, find out what they saw… why they were concerned with Carina’s safety.”
State and local police have interviewed more than 100 people since Saunders’s body was found, and they’ve built a timeline of her final days, Florence said.
He said Saunders didn’t have a vehicle or cellphone and was likely getting rides from others and borrowing cellphones to communicate. Police are looking to speak to anyone who gave her a lift or phone.
Saunders’s body was discovered behind a Homeland store on Oct. 13, after cops received complaints of a foul odor. Police found a black bag with a severed human head and other body parts inside, KFOR reported.
Bethany police arrested Luis Enrique Ruiz, now 42, and Jimmy Lee Massey Jr., 38, and charged them with first-degree murder in 2012. At the request of cops, OSBI agents took over the murder investigation one year later.
Investigators claimed Massey, already jailed on drug charges, shared details of Saunders’s slaying with other inmates.
Meanwhile, a witness who dated Ruiz told police she saw him beat the teenage victim, tie her to a table and torture her by sawing off her left foot. Ruiz then tried hacking off the other foot before the saw broke, the woman claimed.
In court papers, authorities initially suggested Saunders was killed to send a message, warning people not to defy a human trafficking and drug ring.
But in February 2013, the district attorney dismissed the charges against Ruiz and Massey over insufficient evidence. Still, the charges were dismissed without prejudice, and prosecutors can refile, the Oklahoman reported.
Ruiz filed a lawsuit against Bethany cops in February 2014, claiming officers tried covering up flawed police work by interviewing known drug addicts and promising leniency on their cases, KFOR revealed.
He also claimed cops failed to mention that he was in custody the day of Saunders’s murder and that detectives allegedly coerced Massey’s confession using “exploitative and abusive” interrogation techniques.
In court papers, the city of Bethany said it lacked sufficient information “to either admit or deny” that Ruiz was incarcerated that day.
The case was settled in February 2015 for $50,000.
Massey pleaded guilty to meth possession and distribution in 2013 and was sentenced to 10 years behind bars, the Oklahoman reported. He was denied parole last year after Saunders’s mother presented a petition to keep him locked up.
The felon was ultimately released in December 2015 due to good time and work credits, according to the Oklahoman.