Luis E. Ruiz's parents praised the Lord as their son was freed from Oklahoma county jail yesterday, where he's spent the past seven months behind bars as a suspect in the October 2011 slaying of Carina Saunders.
- Luis E. Ruiz, 38, was released from prison on Monday after spending seven months behind bars awaiting trial
- Jimmy Lee Massey Jr, 34, also had his murder charge dropped but remains in prison on unrelated drug charges
- Carina Saunders, 19, was tied to a table and tortured by human trafficking gang to intimidate others
- Her dismembered was body found stuffed in duffel bag in October 2011
A second man, Jimmy Lee Massey Jr, 34, has also had his first-degree murder charge dismissed but remains in prison on unrelated drug charges.
Saunders' body was found in pieces in a duffel bag behind a Bethany grocery store. The sickening details of her tortured death were revealed in an autopsy in August 2012, six weeks after Ruiz, 38, was arrested.
According to the autopsy report, the teen's attacker attempted to hack out a tattoo on her upper back so she wouldn't be identified. She was decapitated and her hands and feet were missing.
Ruiz had been accused of planning and carrying out the torture killing after a witness told police she saw the man, a father and former school teacher, beat Saunders, tie her to a table and then saw off her left foot.
The witness claimed Ruiz went to saw off the teen's right foot but the saw broke. The woman told investigators she jumped out of a window to escape after witnessing the horrid incident.
It is unclear whether the witness recounted her story to prompt the charges being dropped.
District Attorney David Prater filed a motion on Friday to dismiss the charges without prejudice, meaning they can be refiled against either man, and the order was signed by District Judge Ray Elliott.
The charges were expected to be dropped against the men after Bethany Police Department handed the case to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation earlier this month claiming a 'fresh set of eyes' would be positive for the complex case that was going cold.
On Monday, Ruiz hugged and kissed his parents as he was released wearing the same shorts and a short-sleeve shirt he was in when he was thrown behind bars in July.
Ruiz told NewsOK.com: 'It feels good. I'm just ready to go home to my family that's all.' He said the first thing he was going to do was see his kids.
His father raised both his arms and said, 'Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Jesus Christ. Thank you.'
Massey is a defendant in a drug trafficking case and remains in custody with bail set at $100,000.
'We are obviously very pleased about the district attorney's decision to dismiss the charges against Mr. Massey,' assistant public defender Mitch Solomon said in a written statement. 'Our thoughts and prayers are with the Saunders family as the investigation begins.'
Solomon criticized the TV media for sensationalizing the case.
According to KOCO.com, the witness in the case recanted her claim that she had been present when Saunders was killed.
He attorney, David Slane, told the news station his client had drug charges against her, but he insists the facts of the story are true no matter what her motivation was.
'It came out she was just repeating what someone else had said,' Slane said.
'Sometimes people want to help the police. Sometimes they want to help an investigation. Also remember, she was in trouble herself and wanted to get out of trouble.
'I absolutely believe the facts of the story are absolutely true.'
The court documents supporting the pair's murder charges, Massey shared details of Saunders' killing with prison detainees while inside on drug trafficking charges.
The notes claimed Massey admitted kidnapping a woman and making her watch as Saunders was savagely murdered and also said that he had described how the teen's body was chopped up and left in a field behind the Homeland grocery store in Bethany.
Reports last year suggested Saunders was killed by a human and drug trafficking gang to intimidate female witnesses so they would cooperate with the gang's demands.
Massey and Ruiz were charged with the first-degree murder of the young woman from Mustang on July 23. They had been held in Oklahoma County Jail without bail since then.
Ruiz is a former elementary school teacher, according to his family, who later became deeply involved in the drug trade.
The autopsy report revealed Saunders' decomposing body had to be identified by dental records. Her tattoo, which read 'Kween Spade', could also be made out on her back.
There is speculation that the tattoo is adopted by white women who like to advertise themselves for sexual relationships with black men. The tattoo is also taken by music fans of bands of the same name and has references in mythology.
'The body parts were wrapped with plastic wrap, a laundry bag and a duffel bag,' states the report, according to Newsok.
There was prescription painkiller tramadol in the 19-year-old's system but the quantity was unclear.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Oklahoma County District Court, Ruiz planned and carried out the torture killing.
In the affidavit, a woman named Michelle Hanshaw told police she went to a house in the city with Saunders and witnessed Ruiz 'physically beat Carina Saunders and then tie her up'.
Ruiz then dragged Saunders to an upstairs room and tied her to a small table with rope and twine before using the saw on her feet, Hanshaw told Bethany police investigators.
Hanshaw 'jumped out a window to escape' after witnessing the killing.
Stephanie Howard, Ruiz's girlfriend in October 2011, told investigators that on two occasions she and Ruiz had to 'babysit' a girl Howard later learned was Carina Saunders, police reported.
Ruiz said Saunders was going to be 'dealt with', Howard told investigators.
The relationship between Saunders and the two men who were accused of murdering her, was never released.
Another woman was at the house with Saunders and Hanshaw, but left soon after, police reported.
Tia Downour said she had been told there was a video of the homicide on the phone, and the phone belonged to Ruiz.
Downour told investigators she shared a room at the Bel-Aire Hotel with Ruiz in May, and when he went to the bathroom, she viewed the video, police reported.
'Downour said she watched for a few seconds until Saunders began to scream,' Bethany police Lt. JR Jencks wrote in the affidavit, adding that she told investigators she recognized Ruiz 'as the person in the video cutting off the foot of Saunders'.
Another person interviewed by detectives said Ruiz told him he 'had been the one that planned the entire incident which resulted in the death of Carina Saunders'.
Massey, while jailed on drug charges, shared details of the murder with two inmates, according to a probable cause affidavit filed with his murder charge.
He told one that he participated in the homicide and 'they cut the girl's arms and legs off'.
The second inmate told police Massey 'gave handwritten statements in the form of passed notes' describing what parts of the woman's body were dismembered and how the body was wrapped before disposal.
Downour, who told investigators she left the house soon after Saunders and Hanshaw arrived, said Massey, who she also knew as 'Country,' was there when she left.
A confidential witness told police she was kidnapped and forced to watch as members of a human trafficking ring tortured and killed Saunders to send a message to others to cooperate with their illegal activities.
According to court records, Massey admitted to kidnapping a woman and making her watch as Saunders was tortured and killed October 9.
Massey also described how Saunders' body was dismembered and left in a field behind the Homeland grocery store, 15 miles away from her home in Mustang.
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