Four arrested for murder, arson in Ripley County - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Four arrested for murder, arson in Ripley County

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By Heartland News

RIPLEY COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Do two separate fires add up to four murders in Ripley County?

That's what authorities want to know after a pair of fires claimed the lives of two couples.

The suspects, a local family, now face murder charges.

David Youngblood, his wife Melissa, his 17-year-old daughter Chantale, and 18-year-old Keith Boyles, Chantale's boyfriend was arrested.

They are charged with the murder of Edgar Atkinson and Bonnie Chase.  Both were found dead in their burned home.

But this may only be the beginning as authorities now say a fire in late June that killed another Ripley County couple could be linked to these suspects as well.

Flowers still cover the fresh graves of Loyd and Irene Piatt, but it seems the couple cannot yet rest in peace.

Ripley County Sheriff Ron Barnett says the bodies of the elderly husband and wife will be exhumed this week for an autopsy.  This, after another deadly fire with too many similarities gives authorities reason to believe what killed the couple might have been more than smoke inhalation.

"I hated to lose my neighbors," said Bonny Davis who lived right next door to the Piatts.

She says they had been friends for more than 30 years. She remembers the night of June 23 vividly.

"I first heard an explosion," she said.  "I could see the house in flames."

She says from the moment she heard the explosion to finding out the Piatts were inside the home, she felt something wasn't right

"It was an odd feeling to me that there as no mention of the explosion," she said.

Then less than three weeks later, Davis and others were shocked to hear of a second fire in Ripley County.

This time Ed Atkinson and Bonnie Chase were found dead.  Atkinson had been shot in the back and in the head.

"Just wonder what kind of people would want to do this," said Luther Emmons.

He knew the couple and says Bonnie Chase used to care for his sick mother as a home health care worker.

"She was a good worker, thoughtful and considerate," he said.

Saturday, authorities charged the Youngbloods and their daughter's teenage boyfriend with murder and arson in connection with the deaths of Atkinson and Chase.

But that could be just the beginning of their troubles.  Authorities say the two fires and four victims just have too much in common. 

What's more - David Youngblood is the Piatt's nephew.

So now authorities will remove the Piatts from what would have been their final resting place in search of more clues into the mind boggling crime.

Friends, neighbors and authorities all say they aren't sure why anyone would want to any of the elderly victims.

"I don't see any reason why anybody would want to do anything to hurt them. I don't know anything about any valuable possession they had he had guns."

"They should get all the evidence they can to see what happened it might be connected it might not."

Sheriff Barnett says the bodies of the Piatts will likely be exhumed Wednesday.

In addition to first-degree murder charges, the four suspects also face two counts each of first-degree arson, first-degree burglary and armed criminal action.

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