QULIN, MO (KFVS) - Two suspects charged in connection with the 1999 murder of Carla Austin in Butler County have bonded out of jail.
Melissa Baggett posted bond after a reduction Wednesday afternoon. John Austin posted bond just after his arrest last Thursday. Baggett is Austin's stepdaughter, John Austin is Baggett's cousin.
Austin's other stepdaughter, Tracy Rea and another man, Henry 'Mariln' Rice remain behind bars. Rea's preliminary hearing is set for May 10.
Meanwhile, people in Qulin say the arrests have everyone talking.
"It's been discussed around here for years," said Mayor Glen Sedrick. "Some people are shocked, others filled with joy. The fact remains these people have not been convicted in a court of law. They are our friends, I am not about to convict them. We do need closure for the other family."
Police Chief Art Fisher says it's as if someone let the town's secret slip.
"It's subdued for the most part but we do have a lot of pressure. You can feel it in the air," said Chief Fisher. "It's quiet and then you have an issues that will arise that's related to the arrest, but on the most part it's subdued, and that's largely due to the increased police presence."
He says things in Qulin have been interesting considering the family ties involved and that John Austin posted bond just hours after his arrest.
"He has not caused one problem whatsoever," said Chief Fisher. "This is heavy because of the intensity of the charges involved. These are murder charges this is not a traffic offense."
"The case only gets stronger," said Sheriff Mark Dobbs.
Sheriff Dobbs says he feels like some of the old tensions have lifted in Qulin because he's amazed at the number of witnesses with information about Austin's death coming forward.
"We are doing everything we can to keep order and protect them," said Sheriff Dobbs. "It would be in the worst interest for suspects to tamper with any witnesses or victim's family or anything like that."
Dobbs says the case continues to get stronger.
Austin's remains were exhumed in March as authorities searched for clues. This week Coroner Jim Akers turned them over to a funeral home.
Authorities say Austin will soon be laid to rest again.