(Warsaw) (AP) – A Springfield man has been charged with suffocating a teenage girl during sex and dumping her body in a west-central Missouri lake last year.
Anthony James Balbirnie, 48, faces charges of second-degree murder, statutory rape, child molestation, endangering the welfare of a child, tampering with physical evidence and abandonment of a corpse.
A special prosecutor filed the charges last week in Benton County Circuit Court after the county prosecutor dropped a count alleging that Balbirnie abandoned the corpse of 15-year-old Khighla Parks of Willard. The case then was referred to the state attorney general’s office.
The special prosecutor’s felony complaint said Balbirnie and another person took an underage girl, identified in the document only as K.P., from Greene County to Dallas County in September 2012 to “engage in asphyxiation sex with the child.”
After the girl died, Balbirnie and another person moved her corpse to Benton County and disposed of it in Truman Lake, the complaint said. The complaint also said Balbirnie concealed bedding and the girl’s clothes and personal items in an effort to impair the investigation.
Few additional details were available. The probable cause statement has been sealed to protect the safety of some witnesses, Missouri Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Nanci Gonder said in an email.
Two other people are named as co-defendants in the complaint, but no charges tied to the case are listed in online court records
Balbirnie is incarcerated at the state prison in Bowling Green, where he is serving time for violating parole. The Missouri State Public Defender Office didn’t immediately return a message.
Prosecutors labeled Balbirnie a prior and persistent felony offender, which could elevate his maximum sentence to life in prison if convicted.