JASPER/NEWTON COUNTIES, Mo. – “Next thing I know we start seeing one officer, another officer, ambulance, fire truck. And then there was just so many officers over there I couldn’t even count em all,” says Avilla resident Michael Hall.
That’s what Avilla residents saw on Sunday, after a double homicide left two dead in the small town.
“Such a small community, you know, everybody knows everybody. You wouldn’t think something like that would happen here in this little town,” explains Hall.
On Sunday, Jasper County deputies found 34-year-old Mason McClure and 34-year-old Nichole Hodges dead at 255 Greenfield Road in Avilla. They had been shot to death.
“Monday morning at about 4:30 am, a suspect in that crime, Kevin Johnson, was arrested,” explains Jasper County Sheriff Randee Kaiser.
But to fully understand what allegedly happened, you have to go to Newton County.
On Saturday, 25-year-old Brylee Obanion was found dead in a ditch in rural Newton County.
According to autopsy results released Tuesday, Obanion had been suffocated and then her body was dumped and set on fire. They say her body was dumped at some point late Friday night or early Saturday morning.
“At that point, we began to back track where the victim had been,” says Newton County Sheriff Chris Jennings. “That’s always a good way to start, see who was with the person last.”
Jennings says they then started looking for McClure and Hodges as persons of interest in the case. But they were dead in Avilla.
“Until that happened, until that discovery in Avilla, we had really no indication that the two situations were related,” says Kaiser.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Jasper County, Johnson admitted to detectives that he killed McClure and Hodges because they had killed Obanion — his girlfriend.
Johnson claims he had gone to the house in Avilla to see Obanion, and when he got there McClure told him he and Hodges had killed her.
After that, Johnon alleges he went into the garage to held McClure with something — and shot both McClure and Hodges with a 9 mm handgun he had taken from his dads.
Johnson is currently being held at the Jasper County Jail on two charges of first degree murder without bond. But the investigation continues.
“Right now the biggest thing is to try to determine where our victim (Obanion) actually died at,” says Jennings. “The only person we have anything to go on is the person that’s been charged with a crime. Obviously the other two can’t speak for themselves.”
And in Jasper County, they’re trying to see if Johnson’s story checks out, and if anyone else was involved.
So far, no indication that there is other individuals involved. But we want to make sure of that as we move along through this investigation,” says Kaiser.
Kaiser did not feel comfortable commenting on anything in the probable cause affidavit at this time, since the investigation is still ongoing.