Saturday, June 29, 2019

Sheriff's Dept. Arrests Three for Burglary After Capturing Them on Hidden Camera

The Sequoyah County Sheriff's Department was able to identify and arrest three individuals in connection with a burglary that occurred in the Pinhook Corner area by using motion cameras and capturing images of the burglars when they returned a second time.

The sheriff's dept. was originally called to the scene near Pinhook Corner on May 30. As the deputies took the report, Sheriff Larry Lane and UnderSheriff Greg Cox surveyed the crime scene.

Sheriff Lane said, “We looked over the scene and decided that there was a very good chance that the thieves would come back.”

Lane purchased a covert motion camera and placed it at the scene of the burglary and waited until the thieves struck again. After almost a month, on June 26, the sheriff's dept. received a call from the home owner stating that the thieves had returned.

Deputies and investigators responded to the home. While Undersheriff Cox and investigators dusted for fingerprints and searched the crime scene for other evidence, Sheriff Lane retrieved the memory card from the hidden camera and found that there were several pictures of three people forcibly breaking in and removing items and placing them in a truck. Investigators continued to work the crime scene as Lane began circulating the photos to try and identify the suspects. (Photos are shown above. Photos showing the faces of the juveniles were withheld.)

A short time later, a relative of the victim contacted Sheriff Lane and gave him a possible name of one of the thieves. Investigators then went to this suspect’s home and immediately noticed a truck matching the one in the pictures.

“We were able to recover several of the items that were stolen from the home, along with items that were purchased with money that had been stolen from the home,” Lane said.

Arrested for the burglary were Hunter Killian, 18, of Sallisaw and two 17 year old juvenile males, one from Gore and one from Vian.

In the two theft reports, there were approximately $4000.00 in change, and several guns taken.

Sheriff Lane added, “I’m grateful that we were able to wrap this burglary up so quickly. I greatly appreciate the friends and relatives of the victim for helping us to identify the thieves, as well as our deputies and investigators for getting on this case so quickly and working relentlessly to get the property back for this victim. Hopefully we stopped these young men from committing any further crimes. I think they realize that they made a bad decision and I hope they turn their lives around."

KXMX News Staff

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Roland to Celebrate Holiday in Style on Saturday

The City of Roland is kicking off the holiday a few days early!

On Saturday, June 29, the city will host the 3rd annual Iron Mountain Festival and Car Show from 5-9 p.m. Saturday at Roland City Park.

Events include free swimming at the city pool, a silent auction, inflatables for the kids, and a car show.

Pre-registration for the car show will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The final event of the festival promises “the best firecrackers in the area,” which will begin after dark.

Festival sponsors include Firstar Bank, First National Bank of Fort Smith, Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland, Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative Inc., Jason and Lynette Burt, O'Neal Real Estate, LLC, and OG&E.

Laura Brown, Staff Writer

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Legislators Attend Chamber’s June Meeting

Sallisaw Chamber President-elect Jaime Henson, right, presents a plaque to Lindsie Dyer, left, and Heather Silva with People Inc. in recognition of being named the Chamber Member of the Month.

The Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce invited several state lawmakers to its monthly meeting Wednesday at Carl Albert State College’s Sallisaw campus.

The legislators discussed bills they are working on, laws that include getting more funding for state teachers and bringing telemedicine services to the area.

The Chamber honored People Inc. as June’s Member of the Month, and thanked the volunteers, sponsors, and attendees at Diamond Daze.

There will be no meeting in July.

The Chamber invites residents to join them in a Walmart tour at the Sallisaw location starting Friday, June 28 at 11 a.m.

The city’s annual fireworks display will be Thursday, July 4, at Sallisaw High School. Local churches will provide games, refreshments, and food from 7-9 p.m. The fireworks will begin at dark.

There will be a ribbon-cutting Tuesday, July 9, at the Olde Feed Barn.

Laura Brown, Staff Writer

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Monday, June 24, 2019

Slice of Summer Event Rescheduled for Friday

The Sequoyah County Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Team will be hosting a Slice of Summer event Friday, June 28 from 5-7 pm. The event was originally scheduled for June 22 but was rescheduled due to weather.

The Slice of Summer will be held on the east lawn of the Sequoyah County Courthouse and there will be food, fun and games for the entire family.

There will be hot dogs, snow cones, popcorn, watermelon and water available for free. There will also be games and prizes for the kids.

The District Attorney's Office will hold a Cupcake Walk and you won't want to miss your chance to Dunk a Cop in the dunk tank. $5 will get you three chances to show off your pitching skills to dunk a deputy or officer. 

Various resource agencies will have tables set up with information available about their services.

Admission, games and food are free.

KXMX News Staff

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City Jail Escapee Back in Custody After Traffic Stop

Mark Wilson

A routine traffic stop over the weekend resulted in the capture of an escaped inmate.

During a traffic stop on Farm Road shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday, June 22, a Sallisaw Police officer discovered the driver and passenger lied to the officer about the passenger’s name.

After further investigation, it was determined that the passenger was Mark Wilson, 25, of Muldrow. Wilson was wanted in connection to his escape from the city inmate work crew back in April. Wilson only had a couple of days left of the time he was serving in the Sallisaw city jail for a traffic violation for driving under suspension when he walked away into a wooded area April 26 while working with the city inmate crew at the Sallisaw Landfill, according to Sallisaw Chief of Police Terry Franklin.

Both the driver and Wilson were taken into custody.

Pam Cloud, Managing News Director

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Stilwell Woman Killed in Sequoyah County Crash

A Stilwell woman was killed after the vehicle she was riding in crashed north of Muldrow shortly after midnight Saturday.

Rodney Still, 54, of Stilwell, was driving a 2006 Toyota Solara northbound on County Road 4750, almost one-half mile north of State Highway 101, 11 miles north and two miles east of Muldrow, at approximately 12:07 a.m. Saturday morning, June 22.

For unknown reasons, the vehicle departed the roadway to the right, striking a ditch, and overturning .25 times coming to rest on the passenger side, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Tonya Duncan, 44, of Stilwell, was pronounced dead at the scene by Pafford EMS.

Still and another passenger in the car, Cheryl Green, 57, of Stilwell, were not injured in the crash.

OHP reports that seatbelts were in use by Still and Green; Duncan was not wearing a seatbelt. Pafford EMS and Nicut Fire Department assisted at the scene.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Pam Cloud, Managing News Director

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Remember the Removal Cyclists Complete 950-mile Ride

Twenty-one cyclists from the 2019 Remember the Removal Bike Ride arrived in Tahlequah Thursday, finishing their three-week journey that retraced the northern route of the Trail of Tears.

The ride began June 2 in New Echota, Georgia, the former capital of the Cherokee Nation before forced removal to present-day Oklahoma. Cyclists from the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians rode nearly 950 miles through portions of seven states.

The Cherokee Nation held a return ceremony at the tribe’s Cherokee National Peace Pavilion in historic downtown Tahlequah on Thursday, where tribal leaders, friends and family gathered to welcome the returning cyclists.

“These Cherokee men and women have honored our ancestors by riding hundreds and hundreds of miles, from New Echota, Georgia, to the Cherokee Nation capital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Along the way they have formed new bonds with fellow Cherokees, gained a deeper understanding of what their ancestors endured, and faced their own personal adversities – only to defeat them, because that’s what Cherokees do. I am so proud of the 2019 Remember the Removal cyclists and what they have accomplished.

This year marked the 35th anniversary of the inaugural Remember the Removal Bike Ride, which was held in 1984. In honor of that anniversary and to commemorate the 180th anniversary of the end of the Trail of Tears, governors in Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma issued proclamations declaring it “Trail of Tears Remembrance Week” as cyclists made the trek through their respective states. Oklahoma Secretary of Native American Affairs Lisa Billy presented Oklahoma’s proclamation during the return ceremony on behalf of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.

After the original ride in 1984, the leadership program resumed in 2009. Each year, cyclists learn about Cherokee history, language and culture while gaining a deeper understanding of the hardships faced by their ancestors who walked the Trail of Tears.

“Coming home was probably one of the most monumental moments of the ride,” said Ashley Hunnicutt, a Cherokee Nation citizen from Tahlequah. “I appreciate home more than I ever have. I was just overwhelmed with gratitude and love and peace to be here. The ride was life-changing. I am a whole new person, and I’m ready to be here to share what I’ve learned with my family and my friends and the people of my community. Hopefully that will empower them to share that with others, and our ancestors’ legacy will continue to live on.”

During the journey from Georgia to Oklahoma, Remember the Removal Bike Ride participants visited historical landmarks that were important to Cherokee people, including Blythe Ferry in Tennessee, which was the last part of the Cherokee homeland walked by Cherokee ancestors before they began their journey into Indian Territory. Cyclists also visited Mantle Rock in Kentucky, which provided shelter to many Cherokees as they waited for safe passage across the frozen Ohio River.

Of the estimated 16,000 Cherokees forced to make the Trail of Tears journey to Indian Territory 180 years ago, around 4,000 died due to exposure to the elements, starvation, and disease.

The 2019 Remember the Removal Bike Ride cyclists:

Cherokee Nation:

Brooke Bailey, Lost City
Joshua Chavez, Tahlequah
Marie Eubanks, Rocky Mountain
Kayli Gonzales, Welling
Shadow Hardbarger, Marble City
Elizabeth Hummingbird, Peavine
Ashley Hunnicutt, Tahlequah
Destiny Matthews, Watts
Sydnie Pierce, Locust Grove
Steven Shade, Briggs
Kevin Stretch, Fort Gibson

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians:
Tonya Carroll, Birdtown community, N.C.
Dre Crowe, Big Y community, N.C.
Zach Goings, Birdtown community, N.C.
Manuel Hernandez, Big Y community, N.C.
Danielle Murray, Painttown community, N.C.
Keyonna Owle, Birdtown community, N.C.
Micah Swimmer, Painttown community, N.C.
Skye Tafoya, Wolftown community, N.C.
Monica Wildcatt, Wolftown community, N.C.
Blythe Winchester, Wolftown community, N.C.

The 2019 Remember the Removal Bike Ride is chronicled on Facebook at and on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #RememberTheRemoval, #RTR2019 and #RTR35.

KXMX News Staff

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Deputy Recovers Stolen Vehicle During Traffic Stop

Charley Joe Cotner

On Friday, at approximately 11 a.m., Sequoyah County Deputy Michelle Cordray made a traffic stop that led to the recovery of a stolen vehicle.

Cordray originally made the stop for speeding and erratic driving between Vian and Sallisaw. The driver of the vehicle was Charley Joe Cotner, 20, of Sallisaw.

Upon making contact with Cotner, Cordray stated that she immediately knew that this would not be a routine traffic stop. According to Cordray the driver was acting overly nervous and seemed to be impaired or under the influence of something. Cordray ordered Cotner to exit the vehicle and detained him while she investigated further.

Deputy Cordray discovered that the vehicle had just been stolen from a parking lot in Sallisaw and that the owners did not know yet that it was missing. The registered owners, Dennis and Tramera Fletcher of Vian, were notified and they immediately came to the location of the traffic stop to retrieve their vehicle. 

The Fletchers stated that they had not given anyone permission to take their vehicle and they wanted to press charges. Dennis Fletcher is the mayor of Vian.

Deputy Cordray transported the suspect to the Sequoyah County Jail where he is being held on charges of possession of stolen vehicle, grand larceny and DUI-drugs. His bond is pending.

Sequoyah County Sheriff Larry Lane stated,  “Deputy Cordray did a great job today. This is another example of successful proactive policing. Our deputies make a lot of traffic stops throughout the county and commonly arrest wanted persons, recover stolen property and drugs”. 

KXMX News Staff

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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Public Asked to Help Police Identify Car Break-In Suspect

The Sallisaw Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in identifying a suspect in reference to a vehicle break-in that occurred over the weekend.

Captain Jeff Murray said a vehicle on West Redwood was broken into in the early morning hours of June 16. He said items were stolen from inside the vehicle.

“We believe the vehicle was left unlocked, because there is no damage to the vehicle,” Murray said.

It appears that suspect has a tattoo on his right inner forearm.

Murray said police believe this is an isolated incident, and not related to the arrest of three juveniles arrested for car burglaries earlier in the month.

If you have any information about this incident or recognize this suspect, you are asked to call the Sallisaw Police Department and speak with Detective Biles at (918)775-4177.

Pam Cloud, Managing News Director

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Double Murder Suspect Appears in Court

Joseph Allen Hernandez

A Marble City man charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his mother and grandmother made an appearance in court Wednesday afternoon.

Joseph Allen Hernandez, 31, of Marble City, appeared before Associate District Judge Kyle Waters to hear the charges against him – two counts of first-degree murder-deliberate intent, and two counts of first-degree arson.

Hernandez is accused of allegedly pouring gasoline on his mother, Audrey Hernandez, 62, and his grandmother, Francis Wright, 79, who was wheelchair-bound, and setting them on fire on June 5. Audrey Hernandez died June 6 and Wright died June 8 in Tulsa hospitals from injuries sustained in the incident. Both women were laid to rest by family and friends on Monday.

District 27 Assistant District Attorney Marny Hill said a court-appointed attorney will be sought for Hernandez through the Oklahoma Indigent Defense system.

“We want to make sure he’s fully represented at the earliest possible point in litigation,” Hill said.

Hernandez could face life without parole or life with the possibility of parole on both first-degree murder counts.

“We could potentially request death as an option,” Hill explained. “That decision has not been made by the district attorney yet.”

Hernandez was just released from prison one week before the incident on another assault and battery with a dangerous or deadly weapon conviction.

Hernandez remains in custody at the Sequoyah County jail with no bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 10.

Pam Cloud, Managing News Director

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

ODOT Hopes Highway 64 Traffic Will Flow Both Directions Soon

Commuters from Oklahoma into Arkansas via Highway 64 have had to follow other detour routes since the flood waters have receded and revealed damage to bridges between Roland and Fort Smith.

But the Oklahoma Department of Transportation hopes to have traffic flowing at least one lane in each direction next week, according to Kenna Mitchell, ODOT Public Information Manager for Div. 8.

“Of the two damaged (eastbound) bridges, one has a very significant wash out underneath that will need extensive repairs,” Mitchell said, adding that that repair should take several months.

To help accommodate Oklahoma and Arkansas commuters who normally travel Highway 64, ODOT is working to build temporary cross-overs so that westbound traffic will narrow to one lane and one lane of eastbound traffic can also run on the westbound side during the time of the bridge repairs, according to Mitchell.

Mitchell said ODOT hopes to have those cross-overs in place sometime next week.

Pam Cloud, Managing News Director

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Two Arrested for Akins Burglary

Christian Cooper

Sebastian Southerland

Two males have been arrested in connection with a burglary at Akins General Store, according to the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office.

Christian Cooper, 20, of Sallisaw, and Sebastian Southerland, 19, of Muldrow, are each charged with second-degree burglary, according to Undersheriff Greg Cox.

Video surveillance shows a vehicle pulling up to the Akins general store in the early hours of Saturday morning, June 15. Cox said the video, which was posted on social media, shows a male getting out of the driver’s side rear door of the vehicle.

“He flung a plastic flower pot into the bottom glass of the door,” Cox explained, adding that the suspect then got back into the vehicle after only cracking the flower pot.

The suspect gets back into the vehicle and the vehicle drives off, returning approximately 30 minutes later.

“This time, he throws the jack to the vehicle through the door, making entry into the store, stealing property and taking off,” Cox said.

While the suspect’s appearance was not disguised during his initial attempt to break in the store, he attempted to disguise himself with a shirt wrapped around his face and head, but was wearing the same clothing, according to Cox.

Deputies were able to locate the two suspects in the Maple area. Cooper was initially arrested on an active felony warrant for larceny and Southerland was brought in for questioning.

“Both parties fully confessed of everything,” Cox said. “They’re going to have to face the charges.”

Cox said the pair will probably have to pay restitution to the store owner of approximately $350.

Southerland was released on a $5,000 bond. Cooper remains in custody at the Sequoyah County jail on a $5,000 bond. They will be formally arraigned next Wednesday.

Pam Cloud, Managing News Director

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