Now, a couple is locked up in the Seminole County Jail while police and state agents investigate.
“The crime scene tape, when it went up, it was like a surreal moment because we only see it on movies and television,” said Charles Maxwell, who lives next door to the crime scene. “When we saw the vehicles and OSBI parked next door, then we knew it was serious.”
Maxwell told KFOR he was disturbed after learning while Seminole Police and agents with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations were working on the vacant lot, along Old State Highway 99.
“It’s a shocker. You know, we live a quiet life and we like it that way, you know?” said Maxwell.
The OSBI said the Seminole Police Department got a tip late Tuesday night, about the possible murder of a toddler. After officers got a search warrant, they discovered the child’s burned remains on the property near Bowlegs.
“It’s just, it’s tragic,” said Brook Arbeitman, spokeswoman for the OSBI. “Any homicide is obviously tragic. But when a child is murdered, it’s just really hard. It’s just tragic.”
The OSBI said the investigation led detectives to a home in Seminole, where Chad Jennings, 32, and his girlfriend, Katherine Penner, 31, lived.
The couple was booked into the Seminole County Jail early Wednesday morning.
“I’ve never been involved around a crime, and I guess I’m close to one now,” said Maxwell.
So far, it’s unclear what the relation is between the child, Jennings, and Penner.
“Until the child is identified positively by the Medical Examiner and next of kin notifications can be made to any family members, we can’t speculate on who the child is or the relationship between those that are were arrested,” said Arbeitman.
Trinity McFadden is a neighbor who also worked with Penner at the Sonic in Seminole for over a year until Penner had left the job in the Spring.
“Before this all happened, I thought she was just Kat, just nice. She was chill. She didn’t really do much. She was a good boss when she was here,” McFadden said. “But that’s all different now. I’m shocked and in fear. It was really sad and shocking to know that that could happen.”
The OSBI said Jennings is facing charges of first-degree murder, child abuse, and conspiracy. Penner is facing accessory to murder, child abuse, and desecration of a human corpse charges.
The duo made their first court appearance at the Seminole County Courthouse via Skype Wednesday afternoon.
“When a child is murdered, it’s just really hard,” said Arbeitman.
The OSBI said the ATF is also helping in the investigation.