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Three charged in death of Columbia man

Three Miller County men have been charged in the death of a Columbia man who was reported missing last month.

Prosecutors on Friday charged Christopher W. English with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and abandonment of a corpse in the death of Aaron Brantley, 41. William G. Lucas and Daniel Cole were charged with accessory to first-degree murder, accessory to armed criminal action and conspiracy to abandon a corpse. The Miller County Sheriff’s Office said last week that Brantley’s body was found in a wooded area near Brumley.

Brantley, who was reported missing Feb. 9, apparently died of a gunshot wound, the sheriff’s office said.

According to a probable cause statement filed in Lucas’ and Cole’s cases, the two men helped move Brantley’s vehicle and body after English shot him at a property on Blue Ridge Road in Miller County. They also helped burn Brantley’s bloody clothes and cellphone and use bleach in an attempt to clean the crime scene, according to the statement.

A fourth man told investigators that the men were inside a building when English and Brantley went outside and English returned with a handgun without Brantley. The fourth man told investigators he saw Brantley’s body under a tarp outside with a gunshot wound to the head.

The man told investigators that English drove Brantley’s car from the scene and Lucas followed him in a pickup and that the two men returned to the Blue Ridge property together, according to the statement. The man said they went to a store in Kaiser and bought bleach to clean the ground where Brantley’s body and blood had been.

Cole told investigators a large amount of methamphetamine was at a shop on the property Feb. 8, when the killing took place, according to the statement.

A probable cause statement filed in English’s case says Brantley’s wife reported him missing Feb. 9 after he had left to meet with someone named “Chris.” Investigators determined Brantley was meeting English at a bowling alley in Kaiser, the document says.

English was being held on a $400,000 bond while the other two men were jailed on a $225,000 bond.

Look for more on this developing story.

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