(West Plains) – Wednesday, the 37th Judicial Circuit Court held the preliminary hearing for Guy E. Varnell, the 47-year-old rural Alton man accused of bludgeoning his neighbor, 51-year-old Narda Pranke, to death, then chopping up her body with a hatchet on or about February 25 or 26. Varnell has entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of first degree murder. According to court records, prior to Pranke’s death the two had been arguing over feral cats she kept on her land.
Varnell was questioned by the Oregon County Sheriff’s Department after they were tipped that a possible murder had occurred. According to a statement released by the sheriff’s office the reporting party told them that Varnell had called and said he had killed the “cat woman.” Police checked her property and could not find her; they later received a tip that told them to check a remote shed near her property. There they found plastic bags with Pranke’s body parts. Deputies later found the victim’s torso hidden in brush.
Varnell, who reportedly had worked for Pranke, lived about a half mile up the road from her on County Road 204 about 7 miles east of Alton off Highway 160. When asked why he killed his neighbor he allegedly told deputies that she was “nagging and I lost my temper and killed her.”
Varnell then left her body on her property for several days until Feb. 29 when he went back to the crime scene and chopped her up in an effort to dispose of the body, according to what he told police.
Varnell waived his preliminary hearing and will be arraigned May 7.