Four bodies have been pulled from the Oklahoma River during a search for missing bicyclists

Jason Hanna and Raja Razek, CNN

(CNN) – The bodies of four men were found Friday in a river near an Oklahoma town where authorities are searching for four missing men, but it is not clear if the bodies are those of the four missing men, police said.

Friday’s discovery outside Okmulgee came as police searched for four local men who have since gone missing, investigators said. believe meSunday evening, they left the Okmulgee house on bicycles.

However, the city’s police chief told the families of the missing men about the discovery of the remains as a courtesy before notifying the media, he said.

The city’s police chief, Joe Prentice, said in a statement, “the natural (assumption) when information comes out … is that their loved ones were found dead,” he warned them, stressing that he did not know the identities of the bodies. Friday press conference.

Police have not said how the four dead men were killed; a medical examiner in Tulsa performs autopsies and identifies Prentice said on Facebook.

Prentice said a passerby called police after seeing something suspicious in the river Friday outside Okmulgee, a city of 11,000 people about 35 miles south of Tulsa.

Prentice said police arrived and found the remains floating in the river. The police initially said that they did not know how many bodies were there, although after a few hours they did said four bodies of men were pulled out of the water.

Four friends were reported missing this week

Bodies reveal a deeper mystery for police in eastern Oklahoma: What happened to four friends who went missing from their hometown this week? And if the bodies are not those of these four, whose are they?

Four Okmulgee men — Mark Chastain, 32; Billie Chastain, 30; Mike Sparks, 32; and Alex Stevens, 29 — were reported missing by relatives Monday night or early Tuesday, Okmulgee police said.

“All four are close friends and are believed to have left Billy Chastain’s west side Okmulgee home” on Sunday, October 9, around 8:00 a.m., according to his initial release.

“According to reports, all were on bicycles,” the police statement said, without elaborating on why they had gathered or where they were going.

At least two people had mobile phones with them. Police traced Mark Chastain’s phone “to an area south of Okmulgee, but it was turned off or lost,” and “officers checked the area and found no sign of either male,” the statement said.

Prentice told reporters on Friday that the river where the unidentified bodies were found on Friday is not close to the road indicated by the phone.

Prentice said no bikes were found near the river.

“All the information we had up to this point was that our missing men, based on the phone information, left the city and went east and then eventually south. … This (river) is in the opposite direction.” Prentice said. said

“We never consider this (river) a search area,” he said.

Prentice cautioned that the road of the telephone need not necessarily be one trodden by men.

“I can tell you where Mark Chastain’s cell phone went, but I can’t tell you exactly if he had it at the time,” Prentice said Friday.

Prentice told reporters Friday that police received reports of sightings of the men after Sunday evening, but investigators, including those reviewing surveillance footage in the area, have not confirmed any of them.

CNN’s attempt to reach the Tulsa medical examiner for comment Saturday was not immediately successful.

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