Second person charged with murder in 2020 death of Independence woman found in bag

Cortlynn Stark
·2 min read

A second person has been charged in the death of an Independence mom of two whose body was found in a duffle bag in a ditch last year in rural Buchanan County.

Marcus C. Brooks, who was arrested in February, was charged with first degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Ariel Starcher, whose body was discovered Feb. 18, 2020, in a ditch in the 500 block of Vincent Road in Faucett.

Buchanan County Sheriff William Puett confirmed that Brooks had been charged, but referred additional questions to the prosecutor’s office who could not be reached for comment Sunday morning.

Brooks was arrested Feb. 21, the same day that Taylor Stoughton, 22, was also arrested and charged with second degree murder in Starcher’s death.

In a probable cause statement previously released, Stoughton allegedly admitted that she and Brooks obstructed Starcher’s airflow to the “point of unconsciousness” Feb. 5, 2020, at the Sleep Inn hotel in Kansas City. She died of suffocation, according to court records. They then put her body in a bag and dumped it alongside the road.

A Missouri Department of Transportation worker found the bag along Vincent Road, thought it looked suspicious and called the sheriff’s office. The road is about 45 miles north of Kansas City.

Online court records show that bond was denied for Brooks. An attorney for him was not listed in court records.

Starcher’s grandfather, who legally adopted her and her siblings when she was an infant, remembered Starcher as a loving mother to her daughters. They were 6 years old and 14 months old when she was killed.

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