Authorities continued the search for the body of a Webbers Falls man, who is believed to have been beaten to death and his body dumped in Lake Tenkiller, while those accused of his death were charged Wednesday with murder in Sequoyah County District Court in Sallisaw.
Sheriff Ron Lockhart said Tuesday that a special body recovery team has been called in from Texas to search for the body of Matthew Scott Fagan. Fagan was last seen at about 3:30 p.m. on June 21 at the Buzzard Roost Hiking Trail. Those he was with told investigators Fagan complained that his ankle hurt and he went back to the group’s vehicle. But when the others returned, Fagan could not be found.
Investigators, suspicious, continued their investigation into Fagan’s disappearance, but their reports, filed with the arrest affidavit and murder charges, revealed that at least two of the three charged blamed the other.
Charged with first-degree murder Wednesday in district court are Michael Anthony Snelling, 22, and Charles Blake Shamblin, 25, both of Webbers Falls. Tyler Paul Leverett, 22, of Webbers falls, was charged with second-degree murder on Wednesday.
According to the investigator’s report filed with the charges against Snelling, the suspect said the three participated in beating Fagan, then hiding his body, and later wrapping the body in chicken wire and dumping Fagan’s body in the lake.
Fagan’s death, reports indicate, was the result of an argument over a woman.
Snelling told the investigator that the four men went to Buzzard’s Roost Trail near Blackgum Landing Road, to search for a silver mine. Once on the trail, Leverett and Fagan got into an argument, which led to shouting and a fist fight. Snelling said Leverett got on top of Fagan and continuously hit him. Snelling said he tried to get Leverett to stop, unsuccessfully.
Snelling told the investigator that Leverett went to their car and got a ballpeen hammer. He then made Snelling and Shamblin hit Fagan in the face with the hammer, threatening them if they did not.
Leverett also hit Fagan with the hammer, Snelling said.
The three then hid Fagan’s body in a drain pipe, then moved the body further into the woods where they covered him with leaves.
Snelling said he, Leverett and Shamblin returned later, wrapped Fagan’s body in a tarp, and placed it in the bed of a borrowed pickup truck. They drove the body to a boat dock, took it out of the tarp and wrapped it in chicken wire. They then wrapped the tarp back around the body and tied three cement blocks to it.
Snelling said Leverett and Shamblin then took the body out into the lake, and returned 20 to 30 minutes later without it.
But Leverett told the investigator a different story.
According to information filed with the arrest warrant, Leverett said Snelling and Fagan got into an argument, and Snelling pushed Fagan off “a drop off.” He said Snelling was the one who threatened his companions.
According to the report, Leverett took the investigators to the area where the assault took place, but “could not seem to locate an area which he had told us he could take us to.”
Leverett then told the investigator that Snelling pushed Fagan down and struck him twice with the ballpeen hammer. According to the report, Leverett said they did hide the body, then came back for it later, wrapped it in chicken wire, and Snelling was the one who disposed of Fagan’s body.
According to the investigator’s report filed with the charges against Shamblin, he essentially told the same story as Leverett.
A spokesman for the Sequoyah County District Attorney’s office said the three suspects will most likely be arraigned next week. They are being held without bail in the Sequoyah County Jail.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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