Three charged in missing person's case after victim is found in shallow grave in Crestview

Sierra Rains
Northwest Florida Daily News

DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Three people have been arrested and charged in connection with a missing person case in which the victim was found buried in a shallow grave. 

Thomas Pride, 26, of Fort Walton Beach, and Shawn Bennett, 48, of Crestview, are charged with homicide, according to a Walton County Sheriff’s Office news release. Stephen Trexler, 22, of Crestview, is charged with accessory to homicide for his alleged involvement in the days following. 

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office began working with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 14 on  missing person case. The victim’s vehicle was located soon after behind a home off  Kelly Place in Mossy Head. 

Previously:Investigators find man's remains in shallow grave near Crestview

In other news:Body of missing 14-year-old swimmer recovered in Miramar Beach

Investigators found large amounts of blood in the vehicle, according to WCSO. The blood stains were in a pattern consistent with an injury that "could not be survivable," the news release said. 

Bennett and Pride were identified as suspects during the investigation. According to WCSO, evidence and witness statements corroborated both men planned to meet the victim at Kelly Place with the intent to kill and rob him. 

Cold case homicide investigation:Okaloosa deputies seek two men suspected of a 2005 murder. Two others arrested.

Investigators located the victim’s body Aug. 24 in a shallow grave off Chapperal Street near Crestview. An autopsy reportedly determined the victim had died from a single gunshot wound. The victim’s identity has not been released. 

Pride was located and arrested Aug. 27 by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. He was extradited to the Walton County Jail the following day and is being held without bond. 

Bennett was arrested Aug. 20 by the OCSO on an unrelated charge and was pending extradition to Walton County on Thursday afternoon. Trexler was arrested Sept. 2 and is being held at the Okaloosa County Jail without bond.