Poplar Bluff man arrested in connection with cold case murder - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Poplar Bluff man arrested in connection with cold case murder

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Carla Austin, a Butler County woman killed in 1999, is pictured here with her daughter Mindy. Carla Austin, a Butler County woman killed in 1999, is pictured here with her daughter Mindy.
Keith Edgar Atnip (Source: Butler County Sheriff's Dept.) Keith Edgar Atnip (Source: Butler County Sheriff's Dept.)
POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) -

A Poplar Bluff man has been arrested in connection with a 1999 cold case murder.

Keith Edgar Atnip is the fifth person charged in connection with the 1999 murder of Carla Austin.

Atnip of Poplar Bluff was being held on $25,000 cash only bond for tampering with a witness in the Carla Austin murder trial.

A search warrant of Atnip's home on Tuesday revealed the presence of illegal narcotics as well as stolen items to include a stolen all terrain vehicle out of Wayne County Missouri.

"The lengths he intends to go to do whatever is necessary to interfere in this case and all witness tampering will not be tolerated,” said Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs.

Melissa Baggett, John Austin and Henry 'Marlin' Rice all of Qulin, along with Tracy Rea, of Neosho were arrested in 2012 on second degree murder charges.

Atnip is the cousin to three of the defendants/suspects (Austin, Baggett, and Rea).

Carla Ann Austin was reported missing by her aunt on August 8, 1999.

Hunters found her body a few months later in November. According to the probable cause, Carla Ann Austin's body was found around 30 yards from the tree line inside a patch of woods to the west of a field road. Authorities say she was positively identified through dental records.

Sheriff Dobbs says interviews with witnesses and examination of Austin's remains helped them piece together how Austin died, and individuals responsible.

Sheriff Dobbs says they believe a fight began at Three Sister's Bar in Qulin that night and that Austin was lured from there by other family members.

Witnesses who were at the bar that night told authorities that the four suspects were at odds with Austin and accusing her of killing her husband Mike Austin, according to the sheriff.

Dobbs believes Carla Ann Austin was lured from the bar to a spot near County Road 663.

Investigators believe Austin was with Rea, her step-daughter when the other three suspects showed up.

Investigators say they believe Carla Ann Austin died by fatal laceration.

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