Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

August 20, 2012

Two held without bond in murder, assault

TAHLEQUAH — Two people being questioned in a Tahlequah double murder appeared in court Friday morning, clad in orange jumpsuits and bound by chains and handcuffs.

Tracy L. Redford, 43, and 46-year-old Jessie Renee Leppke – who was referred to in court as Jesse Redford – stood together in front of Associate District Judge Mark Dobbins as he read aloud the charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Assistant District Attorney Doug Dry told Dobbins the two were arrested Thursday for the stabbing of a Muskogee man. That attack was captured on video at the Cherokee Inn motel on Downing Street around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

The victim, 52-year-old Ernest “Lee” Norfleet, said an acquaintance, Leppke, asked him to meet her in Tahlequah because she needed help and had been in a fight with her sister, Angela Findlay. When Norfleet arrived at the motel, he was motioned inside and later stabbed nearly a dozen times by Leppke and Redford, whom police say is Leppke’s husband.

Norfleet eventually wrested away one of the attackers’ knives, but the assault spilled into the parking lot of the motel until Norfleet was able to get in his vehicle and flee to a local hospital. Shortly afterward, Leppke and Redford packed up their belongings and left the motel room.

Investigators said the couple took Norfleet’s cell phone, and likely wanted to steal his car.

During Friday morning’s hearing, Dry explained to Dobbins that the couple are also considered “persons of interest” in a double murder discovered late Wednesday night at a Tahlequah home. Dry said he’d been told credit cards belonging to the murder victims were found in the couple’s possession when they were arrested by Tahlequah police.

The bodies of the two homicide victims – 49-year-old Findlay and her 64-year-old uncle, Jesse Catron – could have been in the home for “a couple of days” before being discovered, Dry told Dobbins.

The judge then told Leppke and Redford he’d found probable cause to hold them both, without bond, for first-degree murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

“Nobody ever read us our Miranda rights,” Leppke told the judge.

Dobbins explained that her claim should be discussed with an attorney, not during the probable-cause hearing.

Police discovered the bodies Findlay and Catron after being asked to do a welfare check in the 100 block of Louellen Street, east of College Avenue, Wednesday night. The victims’ bodies had reportedly been mutilated beyond recognition.

As investigators worked the homicide case Thursday morning, warrants were handed down for the arrest of Leppke and Redford on the stabbing case. Authorities located the two suspects near West Fourth Street and the State Highway 51 bypass later in the day.

Leppke appeared in court Friday with white bandages wrapped around her right hand and her left forearm. She had reportedly been treated for various injuries before being booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center Thursday.

During her court appearance, Leppke yawned several times and placed her head against the wall, then stared at the ceiling. At other times, she and Redford, who was seated on the opposite side of the courtroom, silently mouthed words back and forth to each other. At one point, Leppke smiled after her husband mouthed something to her and then winked.

Investigators continued to follow up on leads Friday. Tahlequah Police Department Public Information Officer Brad Robertson said investigators are working on a mountain of paperwork, while awaiting results from both the state medical examiner and from DNA evidence collected during the probes.

Documents provided to the Daily Press Friday also revealed Leppke’s recent violation of court-ordered rehabilitation in Muskogee County and raise questions about whether a warrant should have been issued for her arrest before she was arrested in Tahlequah.

One document is an order for Leppke to successfully complete at least one year in the Hope Village Inc. rehabilitation program in Haskell. The program participation was in lieu of a 10-year prison sentence, handed down in 2008 after she was charged with her third case of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The order to participate in rehab is dated June 25, 2012, but wasn’t filed in Muskogee County court until Friday at 3:23 p.m., according to a time and date stamp on the document.

The second document is a copy of a letter sent from Hope Village Inc. Program Director Henry Petree to Muskogee District Attorney Larry Moore, notifying the DA that Leppke failed out of the program. The letter is dated July 30, but wasn’t filed until Friday afternoon, according to a time and date stamp.

In the letter, Petree claims Leppke violated the rules of the rehab program on July 25 by taking a Hope Village truck, picking up her husband, and going to see her 17-year-old daughter without permission.

Despite the alleged violation in late July, a bench warrant wasn’t issued for Leppke’s arrest until Friday, the same day Petree’s letter to Moore and the June 25 order were filed. Court records show an order was also filed Friday revoking Leppke’s suspended sentence.

Formal charges have not been filed against Leppke or Redford for the Cherokee County cases. Dobbins ordered the two to be back in court Sept. 11.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered everyday to your home or office. Code for E-EDITION TRIAL OR SUBSCRIBE Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition.

It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • SR-WalkaMile1.jpg Walk a Mile 2014

    Men squeezed into feminine footwear Saturday by the hundreds to walk in solidarity with women on the issue of sexual violence – and their clop-clop-clopping echoed down Muskogee Avenue.
    The fourth annual “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” brought men to Norris Park, accompanied by their enthusiastic female supporters, to walk – and often wobble – in high heels over a mile-long course to raise funds for Help-In-Crisis.
    “It hurts every year,” said John Christie, a Sequoyah High School student participating in his third Walk a Mile. “I get home, sit down, blisters come up and the calves hurt. But it is worth it. It’s for a good cause.”

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • adams-christopher.jpg Michigan man gets 13 years on plea to rape, sodomy of girl

    A 28-year-old Michigan man will spend about 13 years in an Oklahoma state prison after pleading guilty to four counts of first-degree rape and one count of sodomy involving a 13-year-old girl.
    Christopher Dale Adams, of Lake Orion, Mich., received a 13-year prison sentence for each of the five charges, to be followed by seven years suspended. All sentences will run concurrently.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • logan-amy.jpg Police take down pair on pot distribution charge

    Tahlequah police officers arrested a pair Sunday night for allegedly possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it.
    Tahlequah Officer Cody Warren said police were asked to investigate when 35-year-old Amy N. Logan, of Tahlequah, allegedly took a family member’s car without permission.
    While Warren was speaking with the owners of the vehicle, Logan arrived along with 26-year-old Theoplilus James Mollie, of Tulsa.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • land-lisa.jpg Two nailed with meth, pot hidden in bag of chips

    Two people were arrested early Monday morning when Tahlequah police stopped a vehicle near Basin Avenue and found methamphetamine and marijuana hidden in a bag of chips.
    Tahlequah Officer Cory Keele said he noticed a Nissan heading north on Park Hill Road, and the vehicle later stopped in an intersection.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • gawf-johnny.jpg Nylon case doesn’t fool deputy; drug charges to be filed

    A Tahlequah man is jailed at the Cherokee County Detention Center after being arrested on drug possession charges.
    Deputy Michael Cates stopped Johnny Lee Gawf, 25, near Stick Ross Mountain Road and U.S. Highway 62. Gawf did not have his driver’s license and had a no-bond warrant for failure to pay.
    When Gawf was asked to step out of his vehicle, he allegedly reached into a pocket and pulled out a black nylon case, which he claimed to be a pocket knife. Gawf sat the case in the seat of the vehicle.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-CN-citizenship.jpg Dual citizenship still OK for tribes

    It’s been almost a year since the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma was forced to close its casino, leaving about 150 members without jobs.
    Right before the operations was shuttered, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker offered a plan to absorb UKB employees, scheduling three employment registration meetings in September 2013.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • TPS to hold graduation at Doc Wadley, after all

    A letter obtained by the Tahlequah Daily Press states that graduation exercises for the Tahlequah High School Class of 2014 will be held at Doc Wadley Stadium on May 23.
    Tahlequah Public Schools received an invitation from the city and Northeastern State University to hold the graduation ceremony inside the NSU multipurpose event center, and the district was initially agreeable. But the necessity of limiting invitations to 10 or 15 per student because of seating concerns drew heavy criticism from seniors and parents.

    April 22, 2014

  • Woman allegedly went after relative, then cop

    Deputies say a 22-year-old woman assaulted a family member Saturday, then attacked an officer when he tried to arrest her.
    Deputy Bryan Qualls was sent to investigate the domestic disturbance at Hilltop Circle. Donna Wilder, the alleged victim, told Qualls that the suspect, Kaylynn Sharp, was hiding in the garage, and had struck her in the face several times.

    April 22, 2014

  • jn-city-pool.jpg City of Tahlequah progressing on bond projects

    Just more than a year after the city began collecting a sales tax funds for use on capital improvements, crews continue to work toward finishing several of the projects.
    “We’re going to deliver everything we said we would,” Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols said Friday.
    The $21-million-plus bond issue approved in 2013 includes about $10 million worth of street projects. South Muskogee Avenue will eventually be widened into a five-lane stretch; East Fourth Street’s widening project is underway; and West Fourth will become, at least in part, a three-lane road.
    Projects will also focus on parts of North Grand, East Allen, Bluff, Crafton, and North Cedar.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall-dustin.jpg Four men charged with burglary

    Four local men are facing burglary and stolen-property charges in Cherokee County District Court.
    Prosecutors have charged the four men with second-degree burglary and knowingly concealing stolen property.

    April 21, 2014 3 Photos

Poll

How confident are you that the immunizations for infants and children are reasonably safe?

Not at all confident.
Somewhat confident.
Relatively confident.
Extremely confident.
undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Stocks