WHERE IS THE NATIONAL MEDIA AT!!!
By Doug Hagmann & Dr. Laurie Roth Thursday, October 14, 2010
Chandra Turner, Sheila Deviney and Tom Horton. These are the names of three people who met unexpected, untimely and violent deaths in Garvin County, Oklahoma in recent years. In each of these cases, their deaths were ruled as suicides by the Garvin County Medical Examiner’s office following investigations headed by the Garvin County, OK Sheriff’s Department. In each of these cases, the victims’ families claim that there are irregularities surrounding not only their deaths, but within the official investigations into each death.
For those of us who have experience in conducting death investigations, we know how common it is for family members of suicide victims to look for alternative explanations for their deaths, choosing not to believe that their loved one could perform such a selfish act. It is difficult and sometimes impossible to convince family members that a suicide is just that, especially after a thorough and exhaustive investigation of all facts available and developed, using a combination of old fashioned detective work supplemented by more advanced forensic tests.
But what happens when the facts don’t support the conclusion of suicide? When the evidence so strongly and blatantly contradicts a suicide ruling that maintaining suicide as the official cause of death defies all logic? And when leads are ignored and evidence is either overlooked or intentionally destroyed?
Under normal circumstances, law enforcement officials are receptive to the legitimate concerns of the families of the victims and are interested in justice for the victims and closure for their families. In Garvin County, Oklahoma, however, it appears that justice for these victims is elusive if not non-existent. Instead of closure, these families are left with a gaping, festering wound as they witness their deceased loved ones victimized not only by their assailants, but now by the justice system itself.
The families Chandra Turner, Sheila Deviney and Tom Horton, unrelated to one another except by their grief, recently found that they share a significant common factor; the deaths of their loved ones were investigated by the same law enforcement agency and under the direction of the same man, Garvin County Sheriff Steve Brooks. Individually, the victims’ families report that they attempted to appeal to Sheriff Brooks to reconsider evidence that was overlooked, dismissed, tampered with and in some cases, even destroyed or permitted to be destroyed. They were sent away.
Individually, the families sought redress with the office of the Garvin County District Attorney, only to be again rebuffed. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the head of the investigations unit within that office was a primary investigator in the Chanda Turner and Sheila Deviney cases.
Perhaps the individual efforts of the families seeking justice would have quietly died along with their loved ones had it not been for the efforts of Ms. Susan Murphy-Milanoand Mr. Shannon Kile. Ms. Murphy-Milano is an expert in the field of intimate partner violence, an author and a witness herself to the murder of a loved one. It was through Ms. Murphy Milano that the families of the victims in Garvin County found common ground, learning that they were not alone in their abandonment by the criminal justice system. It was through her efforts that the unthinkable was discovered. The families shared not only in their losses, but in the curious actions of the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office. The same curious actions spilled over into the Garvin County’s Medical Examiner’s Office as well, appearing to involve an overlapping of personnel seemingly uninterested in justice for the victims or closure for their families.
According to the families, they just wanted the cases to go away, to be over in the most expeditious manner possible, apparently without regard to justice for the victims or safety to the community. A review of the evidence of each case strongly suggests that one or more individuals played an active role in each case - in each death. In other words, they were murdered, and the murderers continue to enjoy their freedom.
Susan Murphy-Milano has taken up the cause to seek justice in the murders of Chanda Turner, Sheila Deviney and Tom Horton. She has pressed for case files, investigative documents, and called for new, independent investigations into these and other cases. She reached out to the Garvin County District Attorney’s office, requesting a meeting to discuss the evidence she had assembled from the families. Also requested for the meeting was Sheriff Steve Brooks.
As first revealed on the new weekly “unsolved crime” segment of the nationally syndicated Roth Show yesterday (link to show archive here), Ms. Murphy-Milano disclosed that her hopes and those of the victims’ families were trampled by Garvin County prosecutor Gregory Mashburn of Oklahoma District 21. Mr. Mashburn notified her and officially declined to met with her, stating that she “had nothing else to offer them” regarding the Gavin County murder cases. As a back-up in the event that reason was insufficient, Mashburn cited “scheduling issues.” Following the official rebuff by the prosecutor, Sheriff Brooks unsurprisingly submitted his regrets as well.
It is sadly ironic that the home page of the District 21 County web site prominently displays the assertion that “The District Attorney must strive to seek justice, protect our communities, and represent those who have been the victims of crime.” Is it possible that District Attorney Mashburn has not read his own web site?
The efforts of Ms. Murphy-Milano, however, have not come without a price. She will be in Garvin County Oklahoma for the next 10 days, despite receiving previously warnings that if she came to Garvin County, she might not leave - except in a body bag. Ms. Murphy-Milano made that disclosure during the October 13, 2010 segment of the Roth Show.
While it is painfully obvious that her inquiries are not “officially” welcome in our nation’s heartland, she remains undeterred and plans on conducting a press conference this Friday, October 15, 2010 at the law offices of Jaye Mendros, 3033 NY 63rd Avenue, Suite E-105, Oklahoma City, OK at 1:00 p.m. CT. Attorney Mendros is taking on cases involving the Garvin County, Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office where such homicide investigations and the proper determinations of the causes and manners of death were botched by the authorities.
At her side will be Mr. Shannon Kile, the founder of The Eleventh Commandment, a grassroots organization of concerned citizens in Garvin County, Oklahoma, formed this year to counter a growing plague of police corruption, political apathy and administrative malfeasance. According to Mr. Kile, such factors played a part in the untimely murders of a number of local citizens which have yet to be solved.
We are certain that through the dedications of Ms. Murphy Milano, Mr. Kile and with the able assistance and tenacity of Attorney Jaye Mendros, securing justice for these victims is now a possibility. And now that the actions of a few are being exposed to the many, rest assured the spotlight of truth will shine brightly upon them until the victims can rest in peace.
(You can hear daily updates from Susan Murphy Milano each day while she is in Oklahoma on The Roth Show)
Doug Hagmann & Dr. Laurie Roth Most recent columns
Douglas J. Hagmann is a veteran private investigator and CEO ofHagmann Investigative Services, Inc. He is the author of Tactical Surveillance, a textbook for investigative professionals and a graduate of the Laboratory of Forensic Science, holding certification in the Physical Significance of Bloodstain Evidence. He has handled over 5,000 investigation in his years of experience, including numerous homicide investigations. He has been an informational and operational asset for the FBI, the United States Department of Justice, the Pennsylvania State Police, the New York State Police, and numerous other law enforcement agencies. Hagmann is a contributing editor atCanada Free Press and is also a regular guest on numerous radio and television talk shows. He can be heard every Friday on the nationally syndicated Roth Show. He is also the founder and director of the Northeast Intelligence Network.
Dr. Laurie Roth is the host of The Roth Show, broadcast Monday-Friday 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET on the IRN-USA Radio Network and the Harris Broadcasting Network. Show archives are available online at The Roth Show.