POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - More than 8 years after the murders of two Ripley County couples, a judge finds 26-year-old Keith Boyles guilty in the deadly shootings.
Judge Michael Pritchett announced the verdict against Boyles in a Butler County courtroom this afternoon after presiding over a two-day bench trial last week .
Judge Pritchett found Boyles guilty on four counts of murder and four counts of armed criminal action in the 2010 shooting deaths of 80-year-old Gladys Irene Piatt, her 77- year-old husband Loyd Piatt, 81-year-old Edgar Atkinson and 69-year-old Bonnie Chase.
Authorities initially thought the Piatt’s died of smoke inhalation after their bodies were found inside their Ripley County home following a fire in June 2010.
After Atkinson and Chases were found shot to death in July 2010, authorities exhumed the Piatt’s bodies and autopsies showed they too died of gunshot wounds.
Police arrested Boyles, his girlfriend, Chantale Youngblood, and her parents David and Melissa Youngblood.
The Piatt’s were David Youngblood’s aunt and uncle.
The Piatt’s daughter-in-law, Imetta Farrar, told Heartland News they’ve waited a long time for this day to come, “Well, it has been a long time. I remember the first meeting with Mr. Z he told me it might be a couple years, and I was like ‘two years, we can’t wait that long.’ We’ve waited 8 plus years now and it’s still not finished because they’re gonna appeal this one.”
Boyles initially faced the death penalty, but that was taken off the table when Boyles agreed to a bench trial in early January.
Prosecutors first attempted to take Boyles to trial in January 2016, but that proceeding ended in a mistrial when they could not seat a jury.
In February 2013, a Shannon County jury found Melissa Youngblood guilty in the murders of Atkinson and Chase.
David Youngblood pleaded guilty in June 2012 to four counts of murder.
In July 2013, Chantale Youngblood pleaded guilty to lesser charges of second degree murder in connection with all four deaths.
Keith Boyles faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
His sentencing date is set for May 1st.