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Fifth suspect arrested in the killings of 2 women in rural Oklahoma

By Joe Sutton and Jillian Sykes, CNN

(CNN) — A fifth suspect has been arrested in connection with the killings of two Kansas women who were found buried in a cattle pasture in rural Oklahoma earlier this month – a crime prosecutors say was motivated by a bitter custody battle.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday 31-year-old Paul Grice was arrested and taken to jail on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree. CNN has been unable to determine if Grice has legal counsel at this time.

Grice was interviewed and admitted to taking part in the planning and killing of 27-year-old Veronica Butler and 39-year-old Jilian Kelley, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by CNN affiliate KAKE.

He also admitted to participating in their burial, according to the affidavit.

Butler and Kelley went missing on March 30 as they were driving together from Hugoton, Kansas, to Four Corners, Oklahoma, for Butler’s supervised visit with her children, according to an affidavit, CNN previously reported.

Their vehicle was found abandoned near a highway in Texas County, where investigators found a bloody scene scattered with “evidence of a severe injury,” probable cause documents state.

Four other suspects – Tad Bert Cullum, 43, Tifany Machel Adams, 54, and married couple Cole Earl Twombly, 50, and Cora Gayle Twombly, 44 – have also each been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder “by arranging and planning, the deliberate, intentional, and unlawful taking away of the life of Veronica Butler and/or (Jilian) Kelley,” charging documents state.

Court documents allege Adams and her significant other, Cullum, engaged in a killing plot with the Twomblys that was motivated by a custody battle between Butler and Adams, who is the grandmother of Butler’s two children.

All four suspects were assigned court-appointed attorneys with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, and the agency’s policy is not to speak to the media regarding pending cases, Charles Laughlin, the agency’s executive director, previously said.

Cell phone data from burner phones purchased by Adams led authorities to a pasture property rented by Cullum where the victims’ bodies were discovered in a hole that had been dug and filled back in, according to court documents.

“The state of the bodies indicated they died as a result of foul play,” affidavits stated.

The group is also accused of unsuccessfully attempting to kill Butler in February, the documents state.

The state bureau of investigation said its investigation is ongoing.

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