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Three charged in connection to suspicious death in Cole County

Three people from Cole County are charged in relation to the death of a 23-year-old man.

Deputies found the remains of Casey Pitman along Upton Road in Henley Friday.

According to Captain John Wheeler with the Cole County Sheriff’s Department, someone called 911 between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. and told dispatch that their friend had shot themselves.

When they arrived, deputies found Pitman with an apparent gun shot wound to the throat.

Wheeler said that the initial statements taken from the people in the house indicated that the person who called 911 was in the kitchen, heard the shot, and tried to help.

“As the interviews progressed, we found that was not exactly true,” said Wheeler.

Court documents say the person who called 911 was Lucas Abbett. they also say Allison Maize and Ryan Buckley were involved in the incident.

Wheeler said one suspect admitted the group had the gun in a bedroom and were playing with it.

“He described spinning it and pointing it at each other while they were doing narcotics,” said Wheeler.

Court documents say the gun was empty at first, and then Abbett put a bullet in later. The documents say Abbett thought Pitman knew the gun was loaded.

But Wheeler clarified later that they believe that could be the case, but they’re still working to find out the exact timeline of the shell’s entrance into the gun.

Pitman was mortally wounded, and Wheeler said the other people in the house met in the bedroom to discuss plans to make it look like a suicide.

“Deputies learned it was a joint effort by the group to get rid of the methamphetamine and the gun,” he said.

There were five people total in the house at the time, including Pitman. Abbett, Buckley and Maize. Authorities said a fourth person was in the house at the time, but was not involved.

They originally were going to hide the gun and the drugs, but realized they needed a gun by the body for officials to rule it a suicide.

Preliminary physical evidence helped officials confirm the group was playing with a loaded weapon and doing drugs.

Abbett is charged with involuntary manslaughter, making a false report, and tampering with physical evidence in felony prosecution. Maize is charged with tampering with physical evidence in felony prosecution and making a false report. Buckley is charged withtampering with physical evidence in felony prosecution.

Wheeler said the department has a history with two of the suspects.

Although investigators found drug paraphernalia in the area, the three will not face drug related charges at this time because officials did not find the meth at the house.

“Truthfully, we it comes to this type of violent crime, you want to make sure you take care of the most severe,” said Wheeler.

An autopsy was done on Pitman Friday in Columbia, but officials do not have the pathology report back yet. The investigation is ongoing.

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