3 to stand trial in elderly couples' deaths

Thursday, April 12, 2012

DONIPHAN, Mo. -- Three Doniphan residents have been ordered to stand trial in connection with the deaths of two elderly couples whose bodies were found in their burned homes in 2010.

David Youngblood, 47, his 19-year-old daughter, Chantale E. Youngblood, and her then-boyfriend, Keith A. Boyles, 19, appeared Tuesday morning before Associate Circuit Judge Thomas Swindle for arraignment on four counts each of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

All three waived formal arraignment on the charges and preliminary hearings, according to a court official.

Swindle, the official said, ordered Chantale Youngblood and Boyles to appear at 9 a.m. May 7 before Presiding Circuit Judge Michael Pritchett for arraignment.

David Youngblood's arraignment was set for 9 a.m. May 21 before Pritchett.

The three are accused of killing David Youngblood's aunt and uncle, Gladys Irene Piatt, 80, and Loyd Eugene Piatt, 77. The Piatts were found dead inside their rural Doniphan home June 23, 2010.

While authorities initially thought the couple had died of smoke inhalation, they became suspicious when David Youngblood was among those arrested in connection with the July 10, 2010, deaths of Edgar Atkinson, 81, and Bonnie Chase, 69.

The bodies of Atkinson and Chase were found in their burning Current View, Mo., home. An autopsy determined Atkinson died of gunshots to the head and upper torso. A cause of death for Chase was not immediately known.

A multiagency investigation led to the arrest and questioning of Boyles and the Youngbloods, including David Youngblood's 34-year-old wife, Melissa M. Youngblood, on July 16, 2010, after information was obtained about their alleged involvement in Atkinson and Chase's deaths.

The Youngbloods and Boyles were charged in connection with the couple's deaths, and the investigation into the Piatts' deaths was reopened.

As part of that investigation, the Piatts' bodies were exhumed so autopsies could be performed. Both reportedly had been shot in the chest.

Charges related to the Piatts' deaths were filed last month by assistant attorney general Kevin Zoellner, who also dismissed and refiled the charges the trio was facing in connection with Atkinson and Chase's deaths.

Although not charged with the Piatts' deaths, Melissa Youngblood is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, first-degree arson and armed criminal action in connection with Atkinson and Chase's deaths. She is slated to stand trial May 21 through 25 in Shannon County.

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