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1 of 5 suspects pleads guilty in connection to Abilene murder, sentencing trial underway

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) - One of five suspects connected to the murder of an Abilene man whose body was found on the side of the road  in August of 2016 has pleaded guilty to her part in the crime. 

Olyvia Jackson, 26, charged with Aggravated Kidnapping and Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Kidnapping, pleaded guilty Monday, and a sentencing trial is currently underway, where a jury will decide her punishment. 

Three other suspects, Matthew Struble, 25, Euella Cooper, 39, and Michal Pine, 38, are charged with Aggravated Kidnapping and Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping in Taylor County and Murder in Jones County. A fifth suspect, Jody Ordway, is charged with Aggravated Kidnapping.

All charges are connected to the death of Ronald "Ronnie" Varner. Jackson is the only suspect who has faced court proceedings. BigCountryHomepage will provide updates as the remaining suspects reach plea agreements or stand trial. 

Varner was found deceased on CR 347 in Hawley on August 2, 2016. Court documents say he was shot at least five times.

After Varner's body was identified, detectives contacted a relative who said Varner had been house-sitting at Pine and Cooper's home on the 1500 block of Sycamore Street. The documents say this relative told police Varner called her on August 1, 2016 and stated he had been tied up and beaten but would be let go. He never came home and his relative was unable to find him.

A witness also spoke with detectives and told them she was at the Sycamore Street house a few days before the murder when she saw Varner fighting with Ordway, according to the documents, which say this witness also said Pine was at her house the night before Varner was found deceased looking for ammunition.

The documents say Struble reported seeing Varner tied up and naked on the floor of the Sycamore house and that Cooper told him that Varner had to be killed and that if they turned him loose, everyone would get arrested for kidnapping. Cooper then gave Struble a gun.

Struble also told police that Ordway, Cooper, and Pine all participated in the kidnapping and beating of Varner, the documents state.

Struble says he shot and killed Varner on the side of the road while Jackson was present. Jackson also admitted to firing a shot, according to the documents.

Pine was arrested in 2016 when he allegedly took a firearm to someone to be disposed of, according to the documents, which say that the person he took the gun to told police Pine "claimed to have killed Ronald Varner because Varner was an informer and was 'building a case on Cooper'".

Court documents say "the investigation revealed not only that all five [suspects named in this article] were involved in the kidnapping but also in the murder of Ronald Varner". 

Check back with BigCountryHomepage for the latest information. 

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