As the National Memorial for Peace and Justice opens to remember Blacks who have been lynched, the heinous act of civilian whites killing African-Americans for no reason is still happening.
The brutal deaths of two young Black men in Oklahoma at the hands of a group of white men have received little national news coverage. After the men had been missing for several days, both of the men’s bodies were found dismembered in water not far from where they were killed.
The Black 21-year-old victims, Alize Ramon Smith and Jarron Keonte Moreland, were last seen alive April 14. The two arranged to meet to sell a firearm Moreland posted on Craigslist to their attackers in Moore, Okl.
The two met the white buyers at a grocery store parking lot. The three white suspects told police that when they met Smith and Moreland, the two went into the backseat of their van and the white suspects heard the click of a gun, believing the two were about to shoot them.
Witnesses said that they saw the white men open fire on Smith and Moreland. The white suspects, Kevin Garcia-Boettler, 22, Johnny Shane Barker, 43, and Garcia-Boettler’s 16-year-old brother, then took the bodies, allegedly dismembered them and threw them in a pond near their home.
More information about the online activity of one of the suspects was recovered this week. News broke Wednesday that on the Facebook page of Garcia-Boettler, a friend commented, “Jr…sup lil n—-” on a photo, and on another “Too turnt my n—-.”
Both Smith and Moreland’s families reported the two missing four days before their bodies were found. Police said the bodies recovered were stripped of clothing and had cinder blocks tied to them so they would sink to the bottom of the pond.
The group of white suspects face several charges, including first- and second-degree murder, desecration of human corpses and illegal possession of a firearm. Court documents said that when detectives went to the suspects’ home they saw cleaning products, dried blood on the vehicle, a chain saw and jigsaw blades.
Garcia-Boettler’s mother, 40-year-old Crystal Rachelle Boettler, was also arrested and charged as an accessory. The bodies were initially taken to her house. Bond for all of the suspects ranges between $3 and $5 million. They will all be back in court later this month.
“This literally appears to be a modern day lynching,” journalist Shaun King wrote on social media. “These 2 men, and 1 other, abducted 2 young Black men from a grocery store parking lot. Then shot & killed them. Stripped them naked. Burned clothes. Took them to a pond & tied their bodies to cinder blocks.”
Cleveland County prosecutor Greg Mashburn has said the killing was not a hate crime. Mashburn’s statement was made before the revelation of Garcia-Boettler’s Facebook activity.
“We definitely explored that, and the evidence absolutely shows that this was not racially motivated,” he said in one report.
However, Moreland’s mother, Kenetha, believes that her son’s race definitely played a role in his murder. She told a local news station that she wasn’t able to view her son’s body and that even the funeral home director advised her not to. Moreland was cremated.
“To me, it’s like [they] planned to torture them,” she said. “When it first happened, I told the detective that if my son don’t call me by a certain time, my son is hurt bad or he is dead. It’s like my whole world has been crumbled.”