UPDATE: GUILTY! James (Ty) Flanders, Former Pastor of Calvary Chapel in Ft Walton Beach, FL, Arrested Today for Murder of Marie Carlson
Former pastor arrested in 2011 disappearance, murder
Posted: May 14, 2015 4:40 PM CST
By Jonathan Andrews, Digital Manager
COCHISE, AZ (WALA) -
A former pastor was arrested more than 1,500 miles away from his church and home in Fort Walton Beach, suspected of a cold case murder from 2011.
Ty Flanders, 46, was arrested on Thursday for the 2011 murder of Marie Carlson of Fort Walton Beach. Flanders was charged with second degree murder.
Disappearance was mysterious
Carlson, the mother of Flanders' newborn child, was last seen on October 17, 2011, at the home they all shared with his wife.
According to the OCSO, several people got a message from Marie that said she'd left Fort Walton Beach to “do something she had always wanted to do”, but the message reportedly didn't have any more information.
Her ex-husband, Jeff Carlson, reported her missing seven days later after he couldn't contact her.
James Flanders located her vehicle at the Fort Walton Beach Airport, a day later, but there was no record that she'd rented a vehicle or flown out.
Carlson's disappearance was recently featured on a TNT show about cold cases, which brought national attention to the case.
Flanders was arrested without incident and will appear in court in Arizona.
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Former Pastor Arrested In Cold Case
Posted: Thu 3:41 PM, May 14, 2015
By: Press Release: Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office
After the disappearance and murder of Marie Carlson was featured on a national television show, a former local pastor has been arrested in Arizona in the case.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Marshal led Arizona WANTED Violent Offender Task Force, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety announces the arrest of 46-year old James Ty Flanders for the 2011 Murder of Marie Carlson of Fort Walton Beach.
Flanders, former pastor of Calvary Chapel Emerald Coast at 407 Racetrack Road, was taken into custody at his home in Cochise Arizona by members of the Task Force and Department of Public Safety.
He was arrested in connection with an Okaloosa County Warrant of Second Degree Murder, signed by Circuit Judge William Stone. Investigators with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office are in Arizona as this case continues to develop.
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RECENT TV SHOW THAT TELLS ABOUT THE CASE
ANOTHER LOCAL NEWS STORY
Former pastor charged in local woman's disappearance
By KATIE TAMMEN | Daily News
Published: Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 17:18 PM.
Marie Carlson, right, and her sister Esta Bridges took this picture on Oct. 15, 2011 while visiting Alys Beach together. Marie texted the photo to her sister later that night. It was the last time anyone in the family saw Marie.
A former Fort Walton Beach pastor was arrested Thursday and charged for his suspected role in the 2011 disappearance of a local woman.
James Ty Flanders was taken into custody at his home in Arizona on a warrant for second-degree murder, according to a news release from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
He is accused of killing 37-year-old Marie Jane Carlson.
He will be brought back to Okaloosa County to face the charge, but it wasn’t clear when he would arrive, according to Sheriff’s spokeswoman Michele Nicholson,
“Thank goodness! Thank God! Hallelujah!” Marie’s brother Randy Bridges said Thursday afternoon upon hearing the news. “Finally some relief.”
Marie was reported missing by her ex-husband, Jeff Carlson, on Oct. 24, 2011, after he and their daughter couldn’t reach her.
Early on in the investigation, Flanders told detectives he’d last seen Marie on Oct. 17, 2011, and that she’d been upset. He said he went out for a run after the disagreement and when he came home both she and her truck were gone.
Her disappearance was featured on the TNT show “Cold Justice” on April 17.
“What we got in April was more than I could have asked for,” said Esta Bridges, one of Marie’s sisters. “I didn’t know this was coming. This is more than I could have ever imagined.”
Before she disappeared, Marie had been living with Flanders and his wife. She had recently given birth to a daughter she conceived with Flanders.
During the course of the investigation, detectives heard several different stories about how and why Marie became pregnant with her second child.
Flanders and his wife initially said Marie served as their surrogate, but people from Calvary Emerald Coast Church told investigators the three were involved in a polygamous relationship.
The wife has not been charged in connection with the case and the child remains in her care, Nicholson said.
Flanders’ arrest was based around seven primary revelations in the course of the investigation, according to the report.
Among the items to play a role were cell phone records that placed Flanders with Marie’s truck, the fact Flanders didn’t tell investigators he and Marie had a physical altercation on the night she disappeared, that he and his wife didn’t report her disappearance and that they left the area in the middle of the night.
Detectives also cited a conversation Flanders had with a friend about needing to get out of the country about two weeks after Marie went missing.
Esta and Randy both said they’re hopeful they will finally be able to find Marie’s body and put her to rest.
“I found out at work, and after that I went straight to church to pray,” Esta said. “I want to know where she’s at.
“She deserves that. We all deserve that.”
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MAY 15, 2015 UPDATE
Booking Summary Report, by Name with Offenses & Bonds
Pages 11 & 12 of 37
Inmate Name: Flanders, James Ty
Date/Time: 13:58:02 05/14/15
Booking Number(s): 15-1538
Name Number: 224020 Age: 46
Address: Cochise, AZ
Offense Date: 08:25:00 05/14/2015
Offense Description: Fugitive Warrant
Entry Code: CRIM
Bond Type: No Bond
Required Amount: $0.00
Optional AmountL $0.00
Clearance Code: [No exceptional clearance]
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Here is another website with more information:
Marie Jane Carlson Disappearance And Reward Fund – A Letter From MJC’s Family
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JUNE 16, 2015 UPDATE
'Cold Justice' suspect held on $1 million bond
Published: Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 03:29 PM.
Flanders was featured prominently in an April airing of “Cold Justice” on TNT as a key suspect in the 2011 disappearance of Marie Jane Carlson.
The former head pastor of Calvary Chapel church in Fort Walton Beach was charged with killing Carlson just a month after the show aired.
In court Tuesday he testified he had considered Carlson his wife, along with his other wife, Tanya.
After a lengthy hearing, Circuit Court Judge William Stone ordered Flanders held on $1 million bond, an amount that clearly dismayed the many friends and acquaintances he had in the courtroom.
“I find the defendant to be a great flight risk and a risk to the public in general,” Stone said in making his ruling.
Carlson was last seen Oct. 17, 2011. Her vehicle was later found parked at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport but no sign of her has been found.
She was living with Flanders and his wife at the time of her disappearance and Flanders admitted early on that he and Carlson had been involved in a disagreement.
Details of the relationship between Flanders and his wife and Carlson were originally hazy, but became more clear as the investigation progressed.
Flanders’ attorney, Glenn Swiatek, attempted to convince Stone that his client’s ties to the community made him a safe bet against running if given a reduced bond. He brought several Flanders’ friends to the witness stand to offer to house him until trial.
Swiatek also argued that the court was holding his client on a murder charge without actually knowing Carlson was dead.
“This case is inference upon inference upon inference,” Swiatek said. “Is Marie Carlson dead? We don’t have proof. Was James Flanders responsible for her death? We don’t have proof. We have inference.”
Swiatek also argued that he wouldn’t be able to offer effective counsel if Flanders were being housed in the Okaloosa County Jail.
He also noted that Flanders had spent the last three-and-a-half years in Arizona without ever trying to evade authorities.
But Assistant State Attorney Angela Mason said Flanders was nothing if not a flight risk. She induced testimony from the defendant that he had at one time discussed with a friend leaving the country while under investigation for the Carlson disappearance.
She told the court that Flanders decision to resign as head pastor of his church and move to Arizona came as Okaloosa County investigators were asking questions about his relationship with Carlson.
Flanders said he’d been considering the move for a year, and at least one friend confirmed that testimony.
But Flanders also said on the stand that the Okaloosa County investigation had spurred he and his wife to leave the state sooner than originally planned.
“He cannot be trusted,” Mason said, citing Flanders’ dishonesty to his congregation about his polygamous relationship and his dishonesty to law enforcement investigating him.
She attempted to solicit testimony from Flanders that on the night before Carlson’s disappearance he and she had become involved in a “physical altercation.”
He hedged on using the term physical altercation, but did admit that he’d reported later receiving bruises on his chest and injuries to his arm.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Tom McLaughlin at 850-315-4435 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMnwfdn.
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DECEMBER 3, 2015 UPDATE
By TOM McLAUGHLIN
315-4435 | @TomMnwfdn
December 02. 2015 1:02PM
Pastor charged with murder granted indigent status
That means the state is presently on the hook for many of his legal bills, according to Flanders’ attorney Glenn Swiatek.
One woman wants to know how that can be.
Susan Jenkins wrote a letter to the Northwest Florida Daily News questioning how Flanders can be considered indigent when he and his wife own and are renting out a home worth just under $140,000.
“He owns the property and I know he doesn’t live there; I live next door,” Jenkins wrote in a letter she emailed to the newspaper last week.
The letter contained an attachment to the Property Appraiser’s website and information regarding the Flanders’ home.
Flanders is a divisive figure in Okaloosa County. He was the popular pastor of Calvary Emerald Coast Church before word began to get out that he might be married to two women.
One of those women, Marie Carlson, came up missing in October 2011 and hasn’t been seen since. Flanders is facing second degree murder charges in her death.
He has acknowledged the polygamous relationship between himself, Carlson and his wife Tanya, but claims he is innocent of the murder charge.
Swiatek said his client is justified in claiming he’s broke.
“My notes reflect that the Flanders’ residence was in pre-foreclosure at the time that he applied for indigency (July 15, 2015),” Swiatek wrote in an email. “The Flanders were approximately one year behind in their mortgage payments.”
The Flanders took on a renter to help them make mortgage payments, Swiatek wrote.
“They were still behind but they were catching up,” he wrote. “They have evidently made an agreement with their mortgage company to at least delay formal foreclosure proceedings.”
At the time he applied for indigency, Flanders had approximately $4,500 in assets with $2,000 of that being equity in his pick-up truck, according to Swiatek. His liabilities and debts were approximately $240,000.00.
In his motion to be declared indigent for costs, Flanders estimated he’d be paying $85,000 to cover Swiatek’s representation. He said his wife has paid $20,000 out of her own pocket and with donations the couple has received.
“At this point we are behind in attorney fee payments and I don’t know how my wife will raise the required funds,” the motion states.
The “very complex” nature of the case will require payment to multiple expert witnesses and gathering information from more than 90 potential state witnesses, the motion said. Many of the witnesses live in Arizona.
Flanders said in his motion he doesn’t expect his case to even come to trial before next May.
Swiatek said Flanders’ motion for indigent status will have to be revisited. He has petitioned the Judicial Administration Commission to help with costs too, he said.
A hearing date for that motion will be set after JAC responds to the request, Swiatek said.
MAY 19, 2016 UPDATE
Thanks to Believer who posted this link: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/article/20160428/NEWS/160428849
Former pastor pleads in murder case involving missing woman (VIDEOS)
Today will begin the “very tedious and time consuming” task of unearthing the corpse, according to State Attorney Bill Eddins.
VIDEO: James Flanders pleads in court
VIDEO: Judge explains the minimum sentence of 111 months to James Flanders
Circuit Court Judge William Stone agreed to accept Flanders’ plea of guilt to the charge of manslaughter, a downward departure from the second degree murder charge he was facing.
Under the arrangement Stone will have the authority following a July 19 hearing to sentence Flanders to a maximum of 15 years, a minimum guideline sentence of 111 months — slightly over nine years — or consider something less.
Flanders asked for and received the hearing. He told Stone he believes he can produce evidence at that time compelling enough to convince the judge to depart from the minimum guidelines and lessen his prison time.
Flanders, who has been in jail facing the second-degree murder charge since last May 14, finally confessed during plea negotiations to killing Carlson, who he has said he considered his second wife.
“He described an incident where he grabbed her and held her in a tight bear hug and they fell to the floor,” said Assistant State Attorney Angela Mason, who would have prosecuted Flanders at trial. “They fell to the floor and he held her until she stopped moving.”
Flanders told prosecutors that when he saw Carlson wasn’t breathing he took her outside and buried her in his backyard on Revere Avenue in Fort Walton Beach, Mason said.
Both Eddins and Mason said Flanders had convinced them that Carlson’s death was not premeditated. Eddins said Carlson’s family is content with the plea arrangement.
Flanders told the court Thursday that he waited to make a plea in the case until the state offered the correct charge of manslaughter.
Family members chose not to speak to the media Thursday.
Eddins applauded the work of Mason in closing the Flanders’ case and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office for its investigation of Carlson’s disappearance and presumed murder.
He said the Sheriff’s Office had at one time searched Flanders’ backyard for evidence that he’d buried Carlson there, and even brought in cadaver dogs to help.
“My belief is the body was buried so deep and hidden so completely, that the only way we would have found it would have been to dig up the entire yard,” Eddins said.
Eddins said in the last couple of days Flanders has accompanied him and others to the Revere Drive property and shown them where Carlson’s body will be found. He said he is absolutely certain the location is the correct one.
Flanders’ attorney, Glenn Swiatek, said Flanders made the decision to take the plea for the sake of Carlson’s family and his own family.
“While his life is going to be difficult over the next few years, he made his decision basically based upon what was in the best interest of the Carlson’s family and his own family,” Swiatek said.
Eddins said the state will pursue the maximum sentence for Flanders and use the fact that he hid her body from detection as an aggravating factor to bolster the request.
Carlson was 37 on Oct. 24 when her ex-husband reported her missing.
Flanders told detectives investigating the disappearance that he'd last seen Marie a week before, and that she’d taken her truck and left the home that he, his wife Tanya, and Carlson shared.
At the time of her disappearance Carlson had recently given birth to a daughter she conceived with Flanders, who was then the pastor of Calvary Emerald Coast Church.
Some church members had come to believe what Flanders would later confirm, that he, Tanya and Carlson were involved in a polygamous relationship.
Carlson’s truck was found at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport not long after her disappearance.
Flanders and his wife moved to Arizona in 2012. He was charged with second-degree murder and brought back to Florida just a couple of weeks after the television show “Cold Justice” aired a program on Carlson’s disappearance.
April 29. 2016 10:09AM
Human remains found at burial site (ARREST REPORT, PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Bones believed to be those of 37-year-old Marie Carlson were just where Flanders had told authorities the day before that they would find them.
READ the arrest report.
He took investigators to 714 Revere Avenue Thursday to show them where he’d buried Carlson after literally squeezing the life out of her.
Officers from four agencies spent hours carefully removing the remains to allow for their shipment to Pensacola, where the Medical Examiner’s Office will positively identify them, said Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Mike Card.
The identification will conclude a search for the 37-year-old Carlson that began on Oct. 17, 2011 when her ex-husband, Jeff Carlson, reported her missing.
It will also clear the way for Flanders, once the popular pastor of Calvary Emerald Coast Church, to secure a plea deal that ensures he will serve no more than 15 years in prison for killing Carlson.
Jeff Carlson said Friday there is great relief in finally recovering his ex-wife’s body, but no joy in seeing Flanders use its recovery to finagle a deal with the State Attorney’s Office.
“I want people to understand that yes, as a family we all agreed to presenting the deal as an option, but that doesn’t mean we’re happy with it,” Jeff Carlson said. “That was the only way we were going to find out what he did with her remains.
“That he will only serve 15 years is a travesty.”
The deal was finalized in Okaloosa County Circuit Court Thursday when Judge William Stone accepted Flanders plea of guilty to the charge of manslaughter and agreed to cap the sentence at a maximum of 15 years.
Flanders could also be sentenced to a minimum guideline sentence of just over nine years and has asked the judge for the opportunity to argue for a downward departure even from that.
A sentencing hearing will be held July 19. State Attorney Bill Eddins has already said he will seek to have the 15 year maximum imposed.
The plea deal was brokered over several days of negotiations, Eddins said.
Flanders confessed to prosecutors during the discussions that he had killed Carlson during an argument by placing her in “a tight bear hug” and hanging on until she stopped moving.
Afterward he buried her in the back yard on the west side of the home.
Carlson was living with Flanders and his wife, Tanya, at the Revere Avenue address at the time of her death.
She was in what Tanya Flanders described to a church friend a “sister wife” relationship, with the Flanders, a police report said, and bore a child, Grace, shortly before she died.
Jeff Carlson said Grace is presently under the care of Tanya Flanders and Carlson family members have exhausted almost all efforts to wrest custody away.
Tanya Flanders is unhappy that the family is even allowed court-ordered video visits with Grace.
“She feels that they shouldn’t be allowed even that,” Carlson said.
Tanya Flanders is not considered an accomplice in the disappearance or death of Marie Carlson, Eddins said.
Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office, Medical Examiner’s Office, FDLE and State Attorney’s Office were all represented Friday at the Revere Avenue residence. Card, who acted as spokesman for the group, said each agency was playing a particular role in the excavation.
Remains were found fairly quickly into the search, Card said, but once they were located the pace of the digging slowed dramatically.
“We’re literally using tongue depressors and toothbrushes,” Card said at about 10 a.m. “It’s a very slow, meticulous process.”
A forensic anthropologist was brought on scene to assist in removing the remains, Card said. He said such care was taken to preserve the evidentiary value of any items found.
The commotion at the residence, complete with a cop directing traffic, crime scene tape and an FDLE van, disrupted the calm of the quiet residential neighborhood. Passersby stopped to ask assembled media what was going on.
Polly Yates, who has lived on Revere Avenue for 34 years, was distressed by the whole scene.
“I'll be glad when it's all over,” she said. “It's beyond me how this can happen.”
Jeff Carlson, who now lives in Colorado, still holds fond memories of his ex-wife, whose passing can now be memorialized in proper fashion.
“I never stopped loving her,” he said. “She wanted to go her own way, and I had to respect that.”
The couple had a daughter of their own, Paris, who is about to turn 12. She’s old enough now, Jeff said, to begin to understand the horrors her mother endured.
“I’ll have to deal with the after effects,” he said.
Human remains were found early Friday where former pastor James Flanders recently told authorities he had buried Marie Carlson five years ago.
Following the initial discovery the excavation of the site slowed to a crawl, according to Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Mike Card, so that nothing of evidentiary value would lost.
“We’re literally using tongue depressors and tooth brushes,” Card said. “It’s a very slow, meticulous process.”
A forensic anthropologist was on the scene working with the Sheriff’s Office, Medical Examiner’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and State Attorney’s Office, Card said.
Late in the morning Card said it would be several hours before the discovered remains could be removed from the backyard of a home at 714 Revere Avenue in Ocean City and turned over to the Medical Examiner’s Office for positive identification.
Flanders provided information on the location of Carlson’s body in exchange for the opportunity to plead guilty to manslaughter in her October 2011 death.
He had been charged with second-degree murder.
Flanders told Assistant State Attorney Angela Mason that he held Carlson in “a tight bear hug” on the night of her death until she stopped moving, then buried her in the yard when he realized she was dead.
The Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant at 714 Revere Avenue to dig in the location Flanders said he had buried Carlson’s body. The residence now belongs to someone else.
The commotion, complete with crime scene tape and an FDLE van, disrupted the calm of the quiet residential neighborhood. Passersby asked assembled media what was going on.
Polly Yates, who has lived on Revere Avenue for 34 years, was distressed by the whole scene.
“I'll be glad when it's all over,” she said. “It's beyond me how this can happen.”
10:42 a.m. update: Lawmen confirmed Friday morning they have found human remains at a Revere Avenue burial site. More information will be forthcoming.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office have begun the search for Marie Jane Carlson's body, allegedly buried in the back yard of a Revere Avenue residence by former pastor James Ty Flanders in October 2011.
Flanders has admitted to killing Carlson.
The Daily News is on the scene and will update the story throughout the day with tweets, video and text.
UPDATE JANUARY 20, 2017
What in the world?? Flanders KILLED an innocent woman and then LIED to the police.