Bodies of elderly couple exhumed in death investigation - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Bodies of elderly couple exhumed in death investigation

By Heartland News

RIPLEY COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A death investigation took a drastic turn at the Pope Chapel Cemetery near Doniphan Thursday morning. 

"First time I've ever been a part of this as a criminal investigation," said Ripley Coroner, Mike Jackson.

Crews at a cemetery near Doniphan used a backhoe and hand tools to exhume the bodies of two people found in a burned out home on June 23. 

It took about an hour for authorities to remove the caskets which were taken to Farmington for autopsies.

Ripley County Sheriff Ron Barnett wants to know if Loyd and Irene Piatt were killed before the fire.  He is looking for any signs of foul play.

"I know it's going to be an expense to the county, but any unattended death like this such as a fire, I feel like we need to do an autopsy so we don't have to do this again," said Sheriff Barnett. "Once this family has put their loved ones to rest, we don't need to be doing this right here."

David Youngblood, his wife Melissa, his 17-year-old daughter Chantale, and 18-year-old Keith Boyles, Chantale's boyfriend are charged with the murder of Edgar Atkinson and Bonnie Chase.  Both were found dead in their burned home on July 11.

Atkinson had a gunshot wound to the back and head. The four suspects also face arson and burglary charges. 

The three Youngbloods and Boyle entered not guilty pleas to Atkinson and Chases's murders on Wednesday.

David Youngblood is the Piatt's nephew. 

In court on Wednesday, family members caught in the middle expressed their hope for a fair trial.  They also tell us they feel further investigation including an autopsy will bring everyone closure.

Sheriff Barnett says they could have autopsy results and more clues in the case by early next week.

"We are looking for gun shot wounds, signs of foul play," said Barnett. "We want to know more about what happened before or during the fire." 

Barnett says an anonymous tip lead them to the suspects initially. 

They still welcome information from the public that may know something about these investigations.  Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Copyright 2010 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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