The suspects allegedly armed themselves, settled into hiding places, waited for their target to arrive and then pounced.
So much planning went into the scheme, according to the sheriff, that the group scouted locations and even met up the day before to practice.
It was probably right to be cautious.
The victim, according to authorities, was a player in a drug cartel that was bringing meth from New Mexico up to the Springfield area for distribution.
Four southwest Missouri residents were charged with murder Tuesday morning after they allegedly orchestrated the killing of 24-year-old Oscar Martinez outside of a home south of Fordland. Martinez was allegedly coming to collect a $40,000 debt owed to a drug cartel.
Brooke Beckley, 19, Anthony Donovan, 19, Nathaniel Lee, 18, and Joshua Applegate, 17, were charged with first-degree murder after authorities say they killed Martinez and fled the scene before being tracked down by law enforcement hours later.
Webster County Prosecutor Benjamin Berkstresser said Tuesday afternoon he anticipates the fifth suspect — later identified as Aroldo — will also be charged with first-degree murder.
"I believe he was part of the planning committee to set up this ambush murder," Berkstresser said.
|Anthony E. Donovan|
The probable cause statement used to charge four suspects on Tuesday describes how and why they allegedly plotted the killing.
According to the statement, Beckley met with Donovan last week at the Econo Lodge hotel on North Glenstone Avenue in Springfield and told Donovan she owed about $40,000 to a drug organization based in New Mexico that was operating in Springfield.
|Nathaniel A. Lee|
Beckley allegedly told Donovan she had found a way to buy herself some time in repaying the debt. She said she had worked out an agreement that if she killed one of the New Mexican men that were coming to southwest Missouri — Martinez — then she would get more time to pay the debt and possibly get the debt lowered, according to the statement.
Donovan and two other men, Applegate and Lee, agreed to help Beckley kill Martinez, according to the statement. In exchange, Beckley allegedly agreed to pay Donovan $6,000.
|Joshua H. Applegate|
When Martinez arrived at the Webster County residence and stepped out of his vehicle, Donovan, Lee and Applegate opened fire, according to the statement.
The suspects then covered Martinez with tin siding and fled the scene before deputies with the Webster County Sheriff's Office arrived, the statement says.
The statement says Martinez died at the scene.
Webster County Sheriff Roye Cole said the suspects carefully planned out the killing, and even practiced the day before.
|Brooke D. Beckley|
Cole said it was a neighbor who called 911 after hearing the shots.
On Tuesday afternoon, Cole said authorities had obtained search warrants for Aroldo's phone, and they were trying to glean information that way.
Cole said several agencies are assisting in the investigation including the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, the Greene County Sheriff's Office, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Cole said he might ask the U.S. Marshals Service to assist in finding Aroldo.
Berkstresser, the prosecutor, said he is aware that people from the southwestern part of the country have been selling meth in Webster County, but this is his office's first direct contact with individuals who identify with the cartels in Mexico and New Mexico.
Authorities said the fifth suspect — eventually identified as Aroldo — likely came to southwest Missouri from New Mexico with Martinez to carry out cartel business.