Authorities in central Oklahoma have arrested two women and one man in connection with a murder in which the victim was reportedly beaten, stabbed, strangled and burned.
According to police, the perpetrators tried four different times to kill the victim, identified months later as 38-year-old Shawn Masters. One of the suspects told authorities that another complained Masters "just wouldn't die."
"A lot of energy and emotion was put into this crime," Richard Stephens, chief deputy with the Logan County Sheriff's Office, told The Huffington Post. "There's a lot of hatred here."
As of Tuesday morning, none of the suspects have been officially charged with first-degree murder. Brandy Hanson, Angel Eva Munoz and Johnny Dean Snow are each charged with desecration of a human corpse and conspiracy to commit a felony. All three are being held at the Logan County Detention Center.
According to Stephens, the investigation into the killing is ongoing, because authorities are still trying to identify two men who they believe participated in the initial beating that is the likely cause of death.
"The medical examiner was unable to determine a specific cause of death –- be it the burning, be it the strangling, the stabbing [or] the bludgeoning," Stephens told HuffPost.
The investigation began on Jan. 31 when firefighters were dispatched to a grass fire in Langston, Okla., a town located about 23 miles northeast of Edmond.
"While extinguishing the fire, firefighters discovered a badly burned male human body," Derek White, an acting agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, wrote in court documents.
It was apparent from the start that the fire was no accident: According to police, the victim was bound at his wrist and feet.
Authorities were unable to find any identifying documents on the victim and the medical examiner's office was unable to identify him due to excessive burns, Stephens said.
"We had a facial reconstruction done and we released two very unique tattoos that were left on the remains," Stephens said. "We put those images all over the news and it took two months for someone to finally put it together."
Someone who saw the tattoos on the news told police he recognized them as belonging to Masters, a former co-worker from Blanchard, a city located 70 miles southwest of Edmond.
On April 1, the county medical examiner positively identified Masters using dental records.
A friend and roommate of Masters mentioned in the court documents did not return calls for comment.
Authorities went to Masters' last known address and interviewed his roommate, Carla Parker, according to the court documents written by White, of the State Bureau of Investigation. Parker told them the last time she saw Masters was in January, when he was with 35-year-old Hanson, nicknamed "Whiskey," from McAlester, the documents state.
Investigators located Hanson on April 1 and she confirmed meeting Masters on Jan. 4, at 24-year-old Munoz's residence in southwest Oklahoma City. Hanson told police things were fine that day until she and Munoz borrowed a car Masters had been using.
"Hanson said she and Angel got pulled over by the police and were arrested for driving a stolen vehicle, possession of a firearm, and possession of methamphetamine," White wrote in the documents. "Hanson said they were detained while the owner of the vehicle came to pick up the vehicle. Hanson said she and Angel returned to Angel's residence where Masters was waiting."
According to the documents, Hanson told police that when they got back to Munoz's residence, Munoz met with two men –- a white man and a black man -– in her bedroom. When they came out, the two men, along with Munoz, attacked Masters with a baseball bat and a wooden stick, the documents describe. These suspects have yet to be identified.
The court documents state that Hanson then tied Masters' hands behind his back with zip ties. Shortly thereafter, the two men left.
The two women then went outside, grabbed a trash can and stuffed Masters inside it, the court documents continue. Hanson told police she knew Masters was still alive because she could "hear him moaning," the documents state.
"Hanson said Angel began using several different knives to stab Masters while he was inside the trash can," White wrote. "Hanson said Angel was on the phone the entire time talking to Angel's 'Vato.' Hanson said Angel was asking 'Vato' for help to get rid of him and that Masters wouldn't die."
After the stabbing, Hanson told police Munoz attempted to use a thin cord to strangle Masters, but it broke. Masters, she said, was still alive and breathing inside the trash can, the documents recount.
CASE PHOTOS: (Story Continues Below)
Hanson eventually called 49-year-old Snow, of McAlester, and asked for help, the documents continue. Hanson told authorities when Snow arrived, the three of them left and later returned with a U-Haul truck.
Hanson and Snow went to a hotel after dropping off the U-Haul truck at Munoz's residence, according to the documents. They remained at the hotel until the next day, when Munoz showed up with the U-Haul truck, which held the trash can with Masters' body, Hanson told police. She said she did not hear any more sounds coming from the can.
On April 2, Snow told police his version of what happened next.
"Snow said … [they] drove the U-Haul truck to an open field near Guthrie," White wrote in the court documents. "Snow described the area as not having a fence and two large brush piles. Snow said the three of them drug the trash can out of the truck. Snow said Hanson set the trash can on fire and they left."
It was not long after that someone called the fire department to report the blaze.
Stephens said authorities also have yet to determine a motive, aside from what the suspects have told them.
"I don't think we've identified for sure a bonafide reason for killing him," the chief deputy said. "There are several potential motives that have been scattered about with the three suspects that are in custody, but we are still gathering leads."
Stephens said he expects the murder charges to come over the next several weeks.
"We see a variety of crimes here in central Oklahoma, but we usually get people shot to death, stabbed to death or beaten to death," Stephens continued. "This case is all of those things, and then you add to that burning the body to hide evidence.
"This is not something we see every day. It's not our typical homicide."
Anyone who had any contact with the victim or any of the suspects during the time of Jan. 15 -- Jan. 31 is asked to contact the Logan County Sheriff's Office at (405) 282-4100.