A married Texas man has been accused of kidnapping and murdering his missing girlfriend and also setting her abandoned car on fire.
The suspect identified as Ocaster Ferguson, was charged with murder after Kayla Kelley’s remains were found on January 18 in a field in Grand Prairie, less than a mile from his home.
Police say her cause of death remains under investigation, but her manner of death is homicide.
The 33-year-old woman was reported missing on January 11 after friends and family didn’t hear from her for days.
Investigators told NBC 5 that before she vanished, Kelley was planning to confront Ferguson after she had learned he was allegedly married and using a false name.
During the investigation, authorities found Kelley’s car, dumped and “burned beyond recognition,” near her boyfriend’s place of work, the outlet reports. On January 14, Ferguson, 32, was arrested and charged with kidnapping and arson.
Last week, he was additionally charged with murder. “While we desperately hoped for a different outcome, I’m grateful for the dogged determination of my deputies and our Texas Rangers in locating Ms. Kelley,” Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said in a statement obtained by WFAA.
Ferguson and Kelley reportedly began dating last summer after meeting online. He used the name “Kevin” with her because he didn’t want her to know his true identity, according to police, reports state. Before she disappeared, she told friends she intended to confront him regarding his alleged lies about being married, as well as about his alleged use of a fake name.
After Kelley was reported missing, investigators learned Ferguson and his wife had recently reported their Lexus stolen, and their car was later found near Kelley’s home with duct tape, gloves and a blanket inside it.
The warrant also reportedly indicated that Ferguson’s phone records showed he’d been near Kelley’s home, as well as the location where her car was found burned and left behind, on January 10.
According to an affidavit obtained by WFAA, the man denied knowing what happened to Kelley and claimed he’d last seen her on January 10 when she dropped him off at work. He also allegedly told police his car was parked near Kelley’s home because he was trying to hide it from his wife, per NBC 5.
In texts reviewed by police, Kelley told Ferguson she would tell his wife about her if he didn’t respond, WFAA reports.
According to an arrest warrant reviewed by NBC 5, Ferguson’s wife allegedly told investigators she’d received a text message from an unknown person in recent weeks saying they needed to tell her something. His wife reportedly did not respond, but believed a woman had sent the text, per reports.
Ferguson is being held in Collin County Jail on a $1 million bond, multiple outlets report. It is not clear if he has entered a plea or retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.