A preliminary investigation conducted in rural Oklahoma led Temple Police detectives to believe two bodies discovered in a wooded area are those of Jenna Scott, 28, and Michael Swearingin, 32, a Temple Police Department release said Tuesday.
Jenna and Michael were reported missing Jan. 4.
The bodies were located and recovered by the Oklahoma State Medical Examiners Office and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations, Temple Police spokeswoman Ellen Morton said.
The medical examiners office will make the positive identifications through the autopsies.
Both families were notified of the preliminary identification of their children — who were friends for many years.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation revealed Friday on Twitter that a homicide investigation in conjunction with a Temple Police Department investigation began after bodies were discovered in rural Okfuskee County. The tweet didn’t say when the bodies were found, but information from the investigation led officers to the rural area.
Kay Thompson, publisher of Okemah News Leader in Oklahoma, said she was at the scene where the bodies were located next to an abandoned house at 381122 E. 1140 Road. The area is secluded, Thompson said.
Residents call the area Grassy Lake Road, and it’s a place where you’ll find lots of burned vehicles and other things dumped by people, Thompson said.
Both families have tried to remain hopeful and positive during the 11 days since they reported their children missing.
Jonathan Scott, Jenna’s father, told the Telegram on Tuesday he saw the report about Oklahoma and was waiting for word from Temple Police.
“Positive ID may not be until tomorrow,” Scott said.
The Texas Rangers became part of the investigative team, he said.
Michael’s mother, Deborah Daniel-Harrison, told the Telegram on Tuesday that she knew bodies were found. Although no one has officially said the bodies belong to her son and Jenna, she seemed reconciled to the thought that they might be the ones found in Oklahoma.
“I know. Only comment is we are all hurting so bad,” she said. “Thank you to the community for all their efforts and support. Thank you to law enforcement for finding our children.”
Temple Police Cpl. Shawana Neely said she couldn’t release anything about the Oklahoma investigation.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation was requested on Friday to help Temple Police investigators, the tweet said.
The Temple investigation by the Criminal Investigations Division was still underway, spokeswoman Ellen Morton said Tuesday.
The new information about the missing friends was received Wednesday by Temple Police, Morton said.
The missing friends
Jenna and Michael were reported missing in Temple.
“Police give very, very little hope that Jenna and Michael will be found alive,” Daniel-Harrison said Sunday on her Facebook page.
A search organized Saturday that brought in more than 100 volunteers found nothing to help pinpoint where the two friends were.
However, Scott verified Monday that Temple Police discouraged anyone else from searching for Jenna and Michael.
Jenna and Michael were last seen at about 3 a.m. Jan. 4 in a gray Hyundai Genesis, Temple Police said. The car was found in Austin, the Austin Police Department confirmed.
Scott’s former boyfriend, Cedric Joseph Marks, 44, was arrested and jailed in Grand Rapids, Mich., on a Temple warrant. Marks was charged with burglary of a habitation with intent to commit another felony. The charge against Marks is a first-degree felony, according to the Texas Penal Code.
Jenna filed a complaint against Marks after an incident reportedly occurred in August 2018 at her home in the 7700 block of Redbrush.
Marks hasn’t been named as a suspect in the disappearances of Michael and Jenna.
Marks’ ex-girlfriend still missing
April Pease, Marks’ ex-girlfriend and mother of a son, was reported missing March 17, 2009, according to The Charley Project. She is missing from Bloomington, Minn., and has not been heard from since. Few details are available in her case.
She was 30 years old when she was reported missing and was the mother of Marks’ son, who was the subject of a heated custody battle, according to court documents from Washington state that the Telegram obtained.
Pease was described as white, 5 feet, 3 inches tall with brown hair and brown eyes. She had a tattoo on her left buttock, one on her abdomen and a mole near her right eye.
The Pease investigation has been active since 2009, Bloomington Deputy Chief Mike Hartley said Tuesday.
“We are in contact with law enforcement and are aware there are developments in another case in Texas,” Hartley said. “We are getting information related to their case and, if it applies in our case, we’ll pursue it.”
However, the department isn’t officially reopening the case as some TV stations reported, Hartley said.
“As more information comes in, we will follow up,” he said.
Hartley said Marks’ and Pease’s son was placed into protective custody in 2009 and he doesn’t know the son’s current location.
Hartley didn’t link Marks or the two bodies located to the missing ex-girlfriend’s case.