An Allen man is accused of lying to federal authorities and being an accessory after a murder on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation last year.
Nathaniel Waters, 45, is charged with being an accessory after the fact and making a false statement, federal court records show. He pleaded not guilty last week.
The FBI says Waters lied about being inside his mobile home when it caught fire in the morning of Oct. 16. The body of Ray Waters Jr. was later found inside the burnt home.
An investigator with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives observed that Ray seemed to have broken bones, according to a sworn statement submitted in court by FBI Special Agent Robert Bennett.
An autopsy concluded that Ray died before the fire, the affidavit states. The examination found also that the victim had “two horizontal skull fractures and neck lacerations,” and that the injuries were likely caused by an ax.
The relationship between Ray and Waters, also known as Thomas, isn’t clear from public court records.
A juvenile is charged with second-degree murder in Ray’s death, Waters’ charging document reveals.
Because the accused killer is a minor, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has declined to provide additional information about the murder charge. Juvenile defendants’ court records also are sealed from public view.
Shortly after the fire, Waters reportedly told law enforcement officers on scene he had been sleeping when the fire started just past 6 a.m. Waters said he woke up to the smell of smoke, jumped out of his bedroom window and tried to wake Ray — who had been sleeping in the living room — by pounding on the trailer’s outside walls, according to Agent Bennett’s statement.
But investigators discovered, through location information on Waters’ cellphone, he hadn’t been home during the fire.
Waters later admitted he had driven with friends to Martin, and saw a “silver truck speeding by” on his way home, the affidavit states. Waters initially also denied making a 911 call to report the mobile home fire.
Around the time of the fire, authorities received several reports about a wrecked truck with its lights on. The vehicle — which matched the description of the truck Waters saw — was later found to have been stolen by a juvenile suspect.
Being an accessory after a federal crime carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison; making a false statement, five years. Waters had initially been charged only with the latter offense.
Waters is detained at the Pennington County Jail, and is tentatively scheduled for trial in June.
Ray’s killing could be among the three homicides on the Pine Ridge reservation last year, based on previous Journal interviews with federal authorities.