A state prison inmate who is charged with killing a 15-year-old girl from Greene County in 2012 waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Thursday. Anthony Balbirnie, 49, is charged with killing Khighla Parks by asphyxiation during a sex act at a home in Buffalo.
Khighla disappeared from an area near her home south of Willard on Sept. 21, 2012. Investigators think she went willingly with Larry Warner to meet with Balbirnie after becoming friends with Balbirnie on Facebook. Her body turned up in Truman Lake near Warsaw 10 days later.
Balbirnie was charged for Khighla’s murder last fall, along with statutory rape, tampering with evidence and child molestation. Amy Hartley, 48, of Buffalo, was charged at the same time for events that happened before Khighla’s murder, including statutory sodomy, endangering the welfare of a child, keeping a public nuisance, tampering with evidence, and abandonment of a corpse. Larry Warner of Springfield was charged with second-degree murder, child endangerment, and statutory sodoy.
At his scheduled preliminary hearing on Thursday before Senior Judge Donald Barnes of Sedalia, Balbirnie appeared by a video teleconferencing system from the state prison in Bowling Green. A preliminary hearing is when prosecutors have to prove to a judge that they have enough evidence to send a case to trial court. After waiving his right to that hearing, Balbirnie is set to make his first appearance in circuit court on June 30, also by video teleconference.
According to the online case file, Hartley is no longer charged with murder but still faces other charges for what happened to Khighla before and after her death. She has a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 16. Investigators think Khighla, Hartley and Balbirnie had sexual relations in Hartley’s home in Buffalo before Khighla died of asphyxiation, and Balbirnie then drove her body to Benton County and weighted it down in Truman Lake, where it floated to the surface several days later. Her bond is $75,000.
Warner is scheduled for trial in October for second-degree murder, child endangerment, and statutory sodomy. He’s in the Dallas County jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond.
Balbirnie was also charged last fall for the murder of Theresa Mohler in 2008 in Polk County. That’s a death that hadn’t been previously reported as a murder. That case also is pending.
Mohler lived in Greene County, according to a news release from the Attorney General's Office last fall. On Aug. 10, 2008, Mohler, who was about 30, was at Balbirnie's home in Polk County, investigators believe. While there, Mohler was bound, held against her will, forcibly injected with narcotics, and raped over several days by Balbirnie, according to the indictment.
On Aug. 15, 2008, Mohler escaped from the home on foot and obtained transportation to Springfield, where she was taken to a hospital. While obtaining medical attention, doctors determined Mohler had a serious infection from the forcible injection apparently provided to her from Balbirnie, which eventually led to her death on Dec. 17, 2008, at age 31.
Little else is public about Mohler or her murder. She is buried in Pennsboro Cemetery south of Greenfield in Dade County, according to a death notice in the Joplin Globe. Her maiden name was Michael.
The Attorney General's Office handled these two grand jury investigations at the joint request of the prosecuting attorneys from Benton, Dallas and Polk counties in August 2013.
Balbirnie was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in the fall of 2012 in Benton County for taking Parks' body from Buffalo to the Warsaw area. In the spring of 2013, he was charged in Greene County with an unrelated burglary and robbery that occurred on Sept. 26, 2012. That case is pending.
Balbirnie was arrested near Fair Grove in October 2012 after a chase in which he drove the wrong way in the northbound lanes of U.S. 65. For that, he was charged with resisting arrest. That case also is pending.
Balbirnie went back to prison in the fall of 2012 after a judge ruled he'd violated conditions of his parole from a seven-year prison sentence for possession of a controlled substance in Greene County. He'd been on parole for about a month when Parks was killed.