Oklahoma City police say robbery suspect linked to 4 murders

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A man suspected in nearly a dozen armed robberies is now facing murder charges in connection to four deaths in Oklahoma, including two people who investigators initially thought died in a traffic accident, Oklahoma City police said Friday.

Mario Normore, 27, has been jailed for almost a year on 10 counts of robbery with a firearm involving several businesses and two banks, according to court records. On Friday, police announced that prosecutors have agreed with a police recommendation that Normore also be charged with four counts of murder.

Formal murder charges had yet to be filed as of Friday afternoon, a delay that isn’t unusual in Oklahoma. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater did not immediately return a telephone call from The Associated Press seeking comment. Normore’s attorney said Friday afternoon that he didn’t yet know whether Normore would face more charges.

Normore has pleaded not guilty to the robbery counts and is being held in the Oklahoma County Jail without bond.

Normore has been in custody since October on the robbery charges. He was later linked to four deaths dating back to last year, according to Oklahoma City Police Officer Megan Morgan.

“He’s the only suspect right now,” said Morgan, a spokeswoman for the police department.

Morgan said the cases include the July 2017 deaths of Bashar Burks, 27, and his girlfriend, Ashley Easton, 30. Police said Normore worked with Burks, whose body was found inside a burning vehicle that had been involved in a crash. At the time, police said his body showed signs of trauma that occurred prior to the crash. Easton’s body also showed signs of trauma when it was discovered later in a nearby ditch.

Police haven’t released details about the injuries or the case, including what allegedly linked Normore to the deaths.

Morgan said Normore is also suspected in the deaths of 21-year-old Searra Howe, who had been missing since August 2017 before her body was discovered in a field in October, and 58-year-old James Steven Knowles, who has been missing since October and is presumed dead.

Normore was reportedly a friend of Howe’s prior to her death, while Knowles was the maintenance man in the apartment complex where Normore lived, according to police. Details about those cases, including what evidence allegedly links Normore to the victims’ disappearances, also haven’t been released.

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This story has been corrected to show Normore is being held on 10 robbery counts, not nine.

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