Mark Akers booking photo (Photo by the Greene County Sheriff's Office)

A Springfield man who apparently was living in a car was sentenced to 23 years in prison Oct. 21 for murdering the man who owned the car, who also was living in it.

Mark Akers was sentenced in the courtroom of Greene County Circuit Judge David C. Jones. Akers pleaded guilty that day to murder in the second degree and tampering with a vehicle, which is synonymous with auto theft.

According to court documents, construction workers found the body of Johnny Pendergrast in a vacant building at 1809 East Seminole Street on the morning of Dec. 1, 2020. Pendergrast was found shoeless, and his car was missing.

Pendergrast’s relatives told police he lived in his car.

Surveillance video shows body dragged

Surveillance video footage from a nearby business shows that at 3:41 that morning Pendergrast walked behind the building and another person followed.

The other person can then be seen dragging Pendergrast and placing him inside the vacant building.

Police believed then that Pendegrast had been beaten to death, possibly with a pipe.

Police entered Pendergrast’s car as stolen in state and national databases.

The next day, police found Akers in Pendergrast’s car, with the keys, in the driver’s seat. He was arrested.

He says “girlfriend,” she says “stalker”

While in the Greene County Jail, according to court documents, Akers made a phone call to a woman he referred to as a “girlfriend.” She told police Akers was a “stalker.”

The woman told police Akers had told her he had been staying in a car owned by a man named “John” and that “John” lived in the car.

She also told police, according to court documents, that Akers told her he had stolen John’s shoes and killed him by beating him with a pipe.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin