EDITOR’S NOTE: Continued from Part One, below is Part Two of Carrie Fatigante’s six-part series about the still-unsolved mystery surrounding the death of Jarret Austin Clark, a young Oklahoma man, only days after his high school graduation.
By Carrie Fatigante
While Jarret Clark was at his friend’s apartment, Brandon Hargrove and his girlfriend Courtney Manzer reportedly stopped by on their way to the lake, presumably to sell Jarret’s friend Xanax, though none of this can be confirmed. Few people were willing to speak with me about this case, and those who were did so only with apprehension.
Courtney was rumored to have a secret crush on Jarret. Tammy Slater, Jarret’s mom, said witnesses told her it was she who persuaded Jarret to join the campout at the lake.
Best friend Sean Sanderson recounted Jarret’s decision this way: “I was on the way to meet up with Jarret at my friend’s apartment, then he called me as soon as I pulled into the apartment complex sayin [sic] he was going camping with Brandon and asked if I wanted to go[.] I said no but they was on the way back to Jarret’s to get some clothes and that was the last I talked to him.” He also said, “It was weird of Jarret to go with him cuz [sic] they never hungout out of school.”
Jarret did indeed return for a change of clothes, and Tammy says he dropped off his car at home and climbed into Brandon’s blue pickup truck to ride out to the lake. Jarret informed his mother of his plans at around 8:45 p.m., and she reminded him to be home by 10 a.m. the following morning for a planned Mother’s Day celebration.
The morning of Sunday, May 14, came and went with no sign of Jarret. Tammy was immediately concerned because Jarret always returned home when he was expected, and would at least call if he would be late. To disappear on Mother’s Day was just simply not like her son.
Tammy spent the entire day contacting friends and family trying to locate Jarret, but to no avail. She finally spoke with Brandon that evening, and when she inquired about Jarret’s whereabouts, he responded, “Your son was an idiot, it was all his fault. He shouldn’t have tried to rape my girlfriend. I kicked his ass and left him there.”
Neither Tammy nor Eric, Jarret’s step-dad, believed Jarret would try to rape anyone.
“I knew then that Jarret was with some bad people and in serious trouble, but at that time, I truly thought I would find my son alive, not dead,” Tammy said.
More questions than answers surfaced when, after reporting Jarret’s disappearance to the Wagoner County police, Tammy says law enforcement refused to regard Jarret’s disappearance as more than a missing persons case. She also said the officers refused to treat the area where Jarret’s body was found as a crime scene, despite her and Eric’s pleas to do so. [Note: Wagoner County officials would not return requests for comment, though the under sheriff did indicate that newly-elected Sheriff Bob Colbert -- who was not in office at the time of Jarret’s death -- is now planning to actively pursue the investigation.]
UPDATE 3/01/2014 at 10:17 a.m. Central: Murder Suspect Arrested in Eight-Year-Old Cold Case!