Region 8 police to exhume bodies Wednesday, investigate deaths

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

DONIPHAN, MO (KAIT) – The Ripley County Sheriff's Office said Monday four people have been arrested in connection to a fatal fire, but authorities are also trying to determine if the suspects had any involvement with another fatal fire just west of Doniphan.

According to Sheriff Ron Barnett, David Youngblood, Melissa Youngblood, Chantale Youngblood and Keith Boyles have been charged each with two counts of murder, arson and burglary in connection to the deaths of Edgar Atkinson and Bonnie Chase.

"We have some information that would lead to believe there's going to be some kind of connection between these two fires," said Barnett.

Barnett said a search warrant was issued on the suspect's home, which turned up additional evidence.

"That's why we're going to try to exhume the bodies possibly Wednesday morning," said Barnett.

Barnett said the bodies of Irene and Lloyd Piatt, who were found dead in a house fire July 10, will be exhumed Wednesday morning. Police want to know if there is any evidence of foul play. Atkinson was found with two bullet wounds, one in his upper back and the other in his head.

"You just don't have fatal fires. Normally people are able to get out," said Barnett. "Ms. Chase was laying on a 2 and a half gallon gas jug."

Police say David Youngblood is the Piatt's nephew. Barnett said he wants to know if that relationship has any connection with the fires.

"We've got one murder investigation. We've got evidence that leads to believe that we have possibly two," said Barnett. "If in fact he does find bullet holes in them, then it'll pretty much piece together what we feel like we, the way we're thinking."

Barnett said 90% of all evidence went up in flames with the homes, but he said he's got other information to make additional charges.

"All four of them elderly people and all four of them in the living room, all four of them had clothes on and it's just strange," said Barnett. "We feel like we have enough evidence and we're lead to believe that we had enough that we could arrest them, got a search warrant and found some items in their home that was going to be related."

Barnett said the Doniphan Police Department, Doniphan Fire Department and Missouri Highway Patrol assisted in the investigation.

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