(CBS/AP) TACOMA, Wash. - Four people are in custody while prosecutors charged a fifth person Monday in the death of a Washington man whose body was found bound and beaten outside a vacant home last month, CBS affiliate KREM reports.
Pierce County prosecutors charged 30-year-old Jeffrey Powell II with murder, robbery and kidnapping in the death of 51-year-old Dean Barker. Powell is sought on a nationwide arrest warrant while the other four defendants were ordered held on $2 million each.
William Barry, Justin Mahaffey, Angela King and an unnamed juvenile were allegedly involved in Barker's death and dumping his body outside a vacant home for sale in the community of Graham on Sept. 8. Some of the defendants appeared on court Monday and claimed that Barker was a sexual predator.
"At this point we don't know if this is a case of vigilante revenge or if stories about the sexual assault are just a cover story," said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.
A defendant said on court Monday that Barry claimed his 3-year-old daughter was molested by Barker while King also claimed Barker sexually assaulted her in the weeks before his death. But prosecutors said they have no idea whether the claims of sexual assault and sexual molestation have anything to do with the killing.
"Why wait until weeks after the alleged sexual assault? Why take the victim's watch? Why steal the victim's money, and why mark the victim's body with a red bandana, which tends to associate the murder with gang violence?" said Lindquist.
Justin Mahaffey claimed to be a member of a gang and allegedly played a role in the kidnapping and the beating.
The fourth defendant, a 17-year-old girl, was in court last week and will be tried as an adult. Her grandfather, Tom Birch, told KREM that she wasn't at the scene where the body was dumped. He said she was involved with the accused people, but didn't commit the crime.
"She's just hanging around the wrong people," Birch said. "Why they decided to take the guy's life, I don't know."
Authorities are still searching for Powell, who prosecutors said has a long criminal history and was reportedly seen with Barker alive at the vacant home where Barker's body was found.