by Gene Hartley
5:47 PM CST, February 1, 2013
BUFFALO, Mo. -- A man charged with dumping a teenage girl’s body in Truman Lake last fall is now charged with another crime, but not murder. The Dallas County prosecuting attorney charged Anthony Balbirnie on Friday with possession of methamphetamine.
Balbirnie is charged in Benton County with putting Khighla Parks’ body in Truman Lake. Parks was a 15-year-old girl who disappeared from her home south of Willard in Greene County in September. Boaters found her body floating in Truman Lake near Warsaw several days later.
Investigators believe Balbirnie, who is from Springfield, rolled up Khighla’s body in a piece of carpet after she died at a home in Dallas County near Buffalo and drove it north to Truman Lake. An autopsy failed to identify Khighla’s cause of death, and investigators haven’t been able to present enough evidence to the Dallas County prosecuting attorney to get someone charged with murder or manslaughter.
According to the probable cause statement against Balbirnie for the meth case, Springfield police and Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers tried to arrest Balbirnie in Springfield on the afternoon of Oct. 8. He fled in a red Ford Mustang.
Less than an hour later, Fair Grove police spotted Balbirnie driving north on U.S. 65. They tried to stop him and he led them on a chase into Dallas County.
During the crash, a trooper wrote in the probable cause statement, Balbirnie raced through a construction zone, “crashing through numerous highway cones and barriers. This crash caused the vehicle to begin to smoke heavily and after several more minutes the vehicle began to slow and was losing significant amounts of radiator fluid. The vehicle then became disabled, moved to the shoulder, stopped and Balbirnie was taken into custody.”
In the Mustang, the trooper wrote in the statement dated Jan. 8, officers found “men’s clothing, 2 cellular telephones, hundreds of small plastic baggies, numerous small vials, several straws, several syringes and a Missouri Department of Corrections identification from Anthony J. Balbirnie. One of the small plastic baggies contained a white powdery substance that appeared to be a controlled substance. A test conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory identified the substance as methamphetamine.”
Because Balbirnie, 47, has at least two past drug convictions on his record, this new charge could result in a life (30-year) prison sentence if he’s convicted. He would be sentenced as a prior and persistent offender and have to serve about 80 percent of the sentence before being eligible for parole.
A Dallas County judge set his bond at $150,000 for the meth charge, although that’s academic at this point. Balbirnie is in a state prison after having his probation revoked on a previous conviction.
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