OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma authorities said Thursday that bodies found last month in a hole initially dug for a septic tank were likely those of three females missing since 1992 and that police had arrested a man who sprinkled black pepper on the impromptu grave in an apparent attempt to cover any odor.
Remains found beneath 8 feet of dirt near Jennings were likely those of Wendy Camp, 23; her daughter Cynthia Britto, 6; and Lisa Kregear, 22, who was Camp’s sister-in-law, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said. Clothing, a backpack and a purse found in the hole matched items the women had when they disappeared May 29, 1992.
Grover J. Prewitt Jr., 60, of Bristow, used to own the land where the bodies were found and was charged Thursday with being an accessory after the fact of first-degree murder. Investigators said he told them that he suspected in 1992 that the three were in the hole and said he spread pepper in the area at his mother’s request.
Prewitt’s nephew had been married to Camp and was in a custody dispute with her around the time of her disappearance, according to the investigators.
In late March, Prewitt told investigators that, around the time the three disappeared, his sister Beverly asked him to hire a backhoe driver to dig a hole for a septic tank on 5 acres that their mother was buying from him. The hole sat empty for a bit, then after the three went missing his mother, Ida Prewitt, asked him to have the backhoe driver fill the hole. Ida Prewitt never moved onto the property and later sold it.
“Grover never looked in the hole after the girls went missing because he was scared of what he would see,” agent Melissa Gann wrote in an affidavit filed in Creek County Court.
Five days after his initial meeting with police, Prewitt met again with investigators and told one “he really needed to look in that hole.” On April 16, crews found three bodies.
In an interview with police on April 22, he recalled his mother asking him to sprinkle black pepper on the area.
“He told her he thought that was ‘awful damn strange.’ She said it would ‘deter dog scents.’ Grover did not question her on that matter and did as he was asked,” Gann wrote.
“He also remembered Ida saying one time she ‘took care’ of those three people,” Gann wrote.
Ida Prewitt died in September 2011, the investigators said.
The OSBI wouldn’t speculate on why Grover Prewitt stepped forward now.
“After 21 years, a lot changes in people’s lives,” OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said.
Creek County officials did not have a record of any attorney for Prewitt.
DNA testing is pending to determine definitely whether the bodies are those of the missing women and the girl.
“Now that it is open and out in the public, we need people to come forward,” she said. “There are other people who know about this.”
At a news conference Thursday, OSBI Director Stan Florence credited Prewitt’s recent revelations — at the same time agents were moving in to arrest him.
“The passage of 21 years gave a tipster confidence to come forward and provide the information necessary to help push this case forward,” Florence said at the time.
According to the investigators, Camp’s son, 4-year-old Jonathan Noe, lived with Chad Noe in Shamrock. Chad Noe’s mother, Beverly Noe, told investigators in 1992 that she drove the three to and from Shamrock, then dropped them off at a Wal-Mart in Chandler.
Jennings is about 100 miles northeast of Oklahoma City and the grave site is about 19 miles from Shamrock and 30 miles from Chandler.