2 ordered to stand trial in 1999 Missouri killing - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

2 ordered to stand trial in 1999 Missouri killing

Carla Austin, a Butler County woman killed in 1999, is pictured here with her daughter Mindy. Carla Austin, a Butler County woman killed in 1999, is pictured here with her daughter Mindy.
John Austin John Austin
Tracy Rea Tracy Rea
Henry 'Marlin' Rice Henry 'Marlin' Rice
Melissa Baggett Melissa Baggett

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS/AP) - Two southeast Missouri men have been ordered to stand trial in a killing that happened in 1999.

The Poplar Bluff Daily American Republic (http://bit.ly/neW1pb ) reports that 44-year-old Johnny Austin and 41-year-old Henry Rice Jr., both of Qulin, are charged with second-degree murder in the death of 33-year-old Carla Ann Austin. A judge on Monday ordered both to stand trial.

Two others are also charged in the case. Authorities suspect Austin  was killed in retaliation by members of her late husband's family, who believed she was responsible for his death.

The arrests come nearly 13 years after Austin's murder.  According to the sheriff statement, Carla Ann Austin was reported missing by her aunt on August 8, 1999. Hunters found her body a few months later in November.

According to the probable cause, Carla Ann Austin's body was found around 30 yards from the tree line inside a patch of woods to the west of a field road.  Authorities say she was positively identified through dental records.

"I've just always wanted to know the truth," said Crafford.  She was eight years old when her mother disappeared.  "We always felt like the family was involved."

Two years before her mother's killing, Crafford's father Mike Austin took his own life.

"It was hard growing up without both of them."

Sheriff Dobbs says this is a complicated case.

"It was definitely a brutal murder, one of the worst you'll come across," said Sheriff Dobbs.  

Dobbs says interviews with witnesses and examination of Austin's remains helped them piece together how Austin died, and individuals responsible. 

"We believe a fight began at Three Sister's Bar in Qulin that night and that Austin was lured from there by other family members," said Sheriff Dobbs.

Witnesses who were at the bar that night told authorities that the four suspects were at odds with Austin and accusing her of killing her husband Mike Austin, according to the sheriff. 

Dobbs believes Carla Ann Austin was lured from the bar to a spot near County Road 663.

Investigators believe Austin was with Rea, her step-daughter when the other three suspects showed up.

"Basically we feel confident she was set up and baited to that location and her life was taken out there," said Sheriff Dobbs. 

Investigators will only say they believe Carla Ann Austin died by fatal laceration. 

Crafford says she still wonders why. 

"I hope they are behind bars for a very long time," said Crafford. 

"I just believe they always hated her," said Crafford. 

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated press contributed to this story.

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