Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

August 23, 2012

Affidavits detail arrests of murder suspects

TAHLEQUAH — Affidavits released Wed-nesday reveal new details in the arrests of a Muskogee couple accused of brutally killing a Tahlequah man and woman.

Tracy Lee Redford, 43, and Jessie Renee Leppke-Redford, 46, are in the Cherokee County Detention Center on charges of first-degree murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after Associate District Judge Mark Dobbins found probable cause last week to hold them both without bond.

The two are accused of stabbing Muskogee resident Ernest “Lee” Norfleet at least 11 times at the Cherokee Inn motel in Tahlequah early Aug. 15. That attack was reportedly captured by a camera outside the motel room. Norfleet drove himself to a hospital and survived the attack.

Norfleet identified the Redfords – both of whom he considered acquaintances or friends – as the assailants, and said he was lured into the motel room before being stabbed and assaulted by the couple. The two may have had their sights on Norfleet’s car.

Norfleet told authorities Jessie Leppke-Redford called him, before the knife assault at the motel, and claimed she’d been in a fight with her sister.

Late Wednesday night, Aug. 15, Tahlequah police discovered the bodies of 49-year-old Angela Findlay and her uncle, 64-year-old Jesse Catron, at a home on Louellen Street. Findlay has been described as Jessie Leppke-Redford’s sister.

Warrants were issued for the arrest of the Redfords on Thursday morning for the assault on Norfleet, and investigators also began to consider the two as “persons of interest” in the double murder.

According to Tahlequah Police Detective Jeff Haney’s affidavits, officers seized a folding knife from the Redfords’ possession after they were arrested near the corner of West Fourth Street and the State Highway 51 bypass on Aug. 16.

Tracy Redford also had in his possession an Oklahoma Access Card and credit card that belonged to Findlay. Haney said Tracy Redford had “numerous cuts and abrasions” on his body when he was arrested, along with what appeared to be blood stains on his clothes.

Jessie Leppke-Redford had a “large cut” on her arm that required medical attention, and had blood-like stains on her clothes, Haney said. Her identification was in her husband’s possession.

Haney said he asked Jessie Leppke-Redford if she wanted to speak before being transported to jail, but she did not.

Also seized after the arrests were cell phones, silverware, clothing, identifications, and other items. A third affidavit indicates police confiscated shoes, a curling iron, a hairbrush, an elastic hair tie, and six swabs at the scene of the stabbing at Cherokee Inn.

The Redfords have not been charged in either the homicide or the stabbing, and are set to be back in court Sept. 11.

Detectives haven’t said publicly whether they believe Findlay and Catron were murdered before or after the assault on Norfleet, but during the Redfords’ court appearance last week, Assistant District Attorney Doug Dry said authorities suspect the victims’ bodies could have been in the home a couple of days before being discovered.

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