A juvenile officer says he’ll recommend two teenagers accused of first-degree murder in an Audrain County death be tried as adults.


A juvenile officer says he’ll recommend two teenagers accused of first-degree murder in an Audrain County death be tried as adults.
Meanwhile, another adult was charged Thursday in the killing.
The juvenile officer, Bruce McKinnon, on Thursday asked that new charges of kidnapping, felonious restraint and armed criminal action be filed against the boys, ages 16 and 14.
The two, who have not been identified, already are accused of first-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old James William Boyd McNeely, who was smothered to death Dec. 18 at the home of 38-year-old Chester C. Harvey Jr. in Laddonia.
Authorities discovered his body Dec. 22 in Vandalia inside a refrigerated trailer leased to Harvey.
“I think they would be better served in the adult system rather than the juvenile system,” McKinnon, the chief juvenile officer in the 12th Judicial District, told the Courier-Post. “Seriousness of the crime is one (factor) and their age at the time of the crime” is another.
Missouri law allows anyone 17 and older to be charged as an adult, but there are exceptions.
McKinnon will present evidence against the teens to Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Jacob W. Shellabarger, who will make the final decision on whether to seek certification of the suspects as adults.
Shellabarger declined to discuss specifics of the case Thursday.
“I cannot comment on an ongoing investigation,” he said. “The investigation does continue.”
A mandatory juvenile court certification hearing could be held Feb. 4. A routine detention status hearing may take place Jan. 7. The teens are housed at an undisclosed juvenile facility in Missouri, McKinnon said.
Harvey and five other adults have been charged in what investigators agreed was a complicated case.
Shellabarger on Wednesday said he would ask a judge to amend the charges against Harvey and his 19-year-old son, Chad M. Harvey of Eolia, to include first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Both were already being held without bond at the Audrain County Jail in Mexico on charges of abandonment of a corpse. The new charges could be added when they go to court Jan. 13.
Chester Harvey also was accused of kidnapping. Shellabarger said he would seek a similar charge against Chad Harvey.
Shellabarger on Thursday filed charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action against Harvey’s 34-year-old wife, Angela D. Harvey. A court hearing has not been set.
A probable cause statement says she admitted to her role in the killing and that she, her husband and another man talked by phone Dec. 16 about making sure McNeely wouldn't come back to harm them.
Angela Harvey said she kicked and threatened McNeely and instructed her husband how to suffocate him and wrap the body to minimize evidence.
Authorities allege the two juveniles participated in the asphyxiation of McNeely in the basement of Chester Harvey’s Laddonia home.
According to a probable cause statement, Chester Harvey admitted he used a garbage bag to suffocate McNeely while “Chad Harvey and others in the basement held McNeely down and wrapped wire around McNeely’s throat in an attempt to strangle McNeely.”
Chester Harvey did not identify the “others (who) participated in the homicide,” according to the statement. Investigators would not say if the juveniles were related to any of the adult suspects.
Also charged with kidnapping in the case were 52-year-old Robert Nicholas Allen and 44-year-old Jackie Don Moss, both of Vandalia, and 45-year-old Darrill Kirtley Lynn of Farber. Authorities say the three were acquaintances of Chester Harvey and brought McNeely to Harvey’s house from Lynn’s home near Farber.
Allen and Moss were being held on $50,000 bond each. Lynn had been released on bond. Allen has a Jan. 8 court appearance and Moss and Lynn will appear before a judge Jan. 27.
Investigators have said the victim was from Ohio and had been living with Chester Harvey, but have not offered a motive for the killing.
Audrain County Sheriff’s Department Capt. James Shrader said Thursday that more arrests were possible.
“It’s a very complex investigation,” Shrader said. “We’re working toward a conclusion, but we’re not there yet.”