Sheriff: Murder suspects dismembered body to 'target evil'

Harkness , Allen and Baumgartner (Source: Boone County Sheriff's Office)
Harkness , Allen and Baumgartner (Source: Boone County Sheriff's Office)
Barn located on Allen's property in Verona, KY
Barn located on Allen's property in Verona, KY

BURLINGTON, KY (FOX19) - Three Boone County men have been arrested for the kidnapping, torture, murder and dismemberment of a victim who has yet to be identified.

Investigators charged Jefferey Allen, 21, of Verona, Anthony Baumgartner, 23, of Florence, and Stephen Harkness, 22, of Verona with Murder, Kidnapping, Abuse of a corpse, and Tampering with physical evidence.

In the course of an investigation of a missing person, detectives developed information implicating the suspects. The Boone County Sheriff's Office has not released the name of the missing person, but did say it is not Terry Hand, who was reported missing a few days ago.

Police believe the victim is a suspected heroin dealer. Sheriff's spokesman Tom Scheben said the suspects wanted to "rid the world of evil," so they set up a drug deal, then kidnapped the man and killed him.

Detectives were led to an undisclosed location in Verona, where they discovered the torso and some dismembered leg parts of a white man wrapped up and discarded in a field.  They also learned the missing body parts had supposedly been disposed of in a dumpster at the Super 8 motel on Dream Street in Florence.

"They decided the guy was an evil and they were going to take care of him," said Scheben.

Scheben said investigators believe the men cut up the body so police would not be able to identify him.

When asked how investigators were led to the suspects, Scheben said he "wasn't prepared to answer that."

The three suspects were arraigned on Tuesday morning and are being held without bond. They have a preliminary hearing scheduled for January 17th.

A team of detectives spent Tuesday at the Rumpke of Kentucky Landfill in Butler, KY, searching for the evidence. Investigators say they have very good reason to believe the other parts of the victim are there.

Rumpke Safety Director Larry Stone said cadaver dogs were unable to search the landfill because of the nature of the decomposing trash and various odors present. Instead, the driver was able to identify the area he dumped the trash picked up from the Super 8 on Friday, and that trash was isolated and combed over by Boone County Detectives.

The man they believe to be the victim had tattoos on his arm which police hope to identify him with. According to Scheben, the coroner plans to use pictures of the victim's clothing and a partial tattoo to get a positive family identification.

In addition, Scheben also said they aren't ruling out other parts of the victim being located in other areas of Northern Kentucky. On Tuesday afternoon, police and cadaver dogs were searching a barn and surrounding area, located on Allen's property in Verona.

Scheben says investigators will re-group on Wednesday morning to decide whether or not to continue searching the landfill.

According to authorities, one of the suspects is a former Marine who was dishonorably discharged. Facebook pages for both Jefferey Allen and Stephen Harkness indicate they were both Marines at one time. None of the suspects have extensive criminal histories. Baumgartner was arrested in 2007 for criminal trespassing and Allen was arrested in 2010 for disorderly conduct in Boone County.

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