Thursday, September 2, 2010
The adopted song for the state of Oklahoma originates from the 1950s Rogers and Hammerstein musical sung by Shirley Jones and Gordon McRae. A line from the song says: “Winds come sweeping down the plain, smells sweet.” I would like to add a verse of my own: "The sweeping murder down the plain, it smells foul, just the same,” new lyrics now sung by the families of Chanda Turner and Shiela Deviney.
In the state of Oklahoma, specifically Garvin County, justice has literally been removed, erased, whatever you would like to call it, for the families of Chanda Turner and Shiela Deviney. Both of these women lost their lives as a direct result of intimate partner homicide. The elected officials, law enforcement and political powers in the State of Oklahoma have decided never to investigate, bring forth charges and arrest the husband and boyfriend in these cases. Instead, they gave each of the suspects their blessings, allowing them to tamper with crime-scene evidence after each murder, right under the noses of Old West-mentality law enforcement.
The sheriff, in my opinion, has used everything in his corrupt and crooked magic bag to harass and personally threaten each of the families. It is likely the Garvin County Sheriff's Office is still operating under 1850s Old West procedures when it comes to the murder of a wife and a girlfriend. The current sheriff might want to change the language on the office's website, which reads: "The office of the sheriff is one of antiquity. It is the oldest law-enforcement known within the common-law system, and it has always been accorded great dignity and trust."
Chandra Turner (left), just 23 years old, was shot to death at her home in Paul's Valley on July 12, 2000. Her boyfriend claimed she shot herself while he slept through the sound of gunfire and later found her outside on the back steps after she was dead. Crime scene photos depict blood throughout the inside of the home, including on the mattress he claimed he was asleep on. The mattress had been stripped of sheets; no one asked where they went. There were more signs of cleanup in the bedroom, including a bottle of cleaning solution on the floor. The boyfriend had fresh scratches on his arms, and Chanda was covered in bruises. There were signs of a struggle in the living room, including broken furniture.
Shiela Deviney (right), 30, died on January 6, 2004, when her mobile home, located about one mile east and one mile south of Maysville, Oklahoma, burned to the ground. She was murdered. It should be no surprise that Sheila had been married to an abusive, controlling man. They had a court date over past-due child support scheduled the next day. According to eye witnesses, her ex-husband was at the home, although by law not allowed on the premises. He and another friend destroyed evidence and took items from the home.
Where are my manners? I forgot to mention that the "participation" (more like hawking into a spitoon) of the district attorney's office, both past and current administrations, has been non-existent. The office refuses to open the cases. They will not take calls from the families, who have important documents and information. They refuse to give a damn!
Perhaps it has something to do with the person who now heads up the investigations for the district attorney's office? Oh, wait, I remember now. He was an investigator on both the Chanda Turner and the Shiela Deviney cases.
Last month, Intimate Partner Homicide Investigation Radio, a new show about victims likely killed by a husband or a boyfriend, presented these two cases. The Blogtalk Radio show is hosted by "Cold Case" investigative research director Sheryl McCollum, former Atlanta prosecutor turned defense attorney Holly Hughes, and myself. Our broadcasts alone were, in our opinion, more than enough to actually have both the Turner and Deviney case re-opened. Calls burned up the show’s switchboard with folks calling in with information from witnesses of "who done it," and with locations of important evidence. Each caller stated they had never been contacted by law enforcement or the prosecutors office.
According to Sheryl McCollum, "Although we will never know what forensic evidence was present because the crime scene was not secured properly in either of the cases, other evidence provided is more than enough to investigate and demand each case be re-opened."
McCollum goes on to say, about Chanda Turner’s case: "We know from photographs that there was blood spatter evidence that was not considered, we know from forensic reports that there was primer residue evidence that was ignored."
Defense attorney Holly Hughes, the former Atlanta prosecutor, believes that the Gavin County prosecutor, by refusing to open both the Turner and Deviney cases, is covering up for those who did not properly do their jobs. It is clear from the photos of the fire in the Deviney case.
Within three weeks of the airing of Shiela Deviney’s case, a group of Oklahoma businessmen who heard the show and wish to remain anonymous posted a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the people responsible for Sheila’s murder.
Perhaps the prosecutor has a memory lapse, practicing his own version of "blue light special" justice, forgetting that he was elected by the people, taking an oath, placing his hand on the Bible, swearing to do a job and ensure justice.
To the elected officials in Oklahoma, as your song goes “it ain’t too early and it ain’t too late" to do your jobs and re-open the cases!
Many times we don't realize the impact of writing and posting blogs, or doing what some call silly radio shows for broadcast over the Internet; they do have an impact and people are listening and taking action. In addition, in Oklahoma, because of our show, a newly formed alliance of concerned and committed citizens was created and named the Eleventh Commandment. It was created to counter a growing plague of police corruption, political apathy and administrative malfeasance, all of which have played a part in the untimely and unsolved murders of a number of local citizens. The Eleventh Commandment reads, "Thou shall not get away with it!"
The Internet, in my opinion, can be an important tool if used correctly, specifically for cold cases, taking the lives of those buried and forgotten long ago and holding them under the light for justice!