DA: After many years, cold cases still get attention

District 27 District Attorney Jack Thorp and DA Investigator Vicky Lyons said there are close to 70 cold cases in Cherokee, Adair, Sequoyah, and Wagoner counties.

Close to 70 cold cases are in the files of District Attorney Jack Thorp's office, and investigators who have retired still assist with some of those cases.

A cold case is an unsolved one that remains open, awaiting the discovery of new evidence, and Thorp, top prosecutor for District 27, said they’ve prosecuted 8 cold cases.

“I would define a cold case as a case that, after the initial investigation, remains unsolved or uncharged,” said Thorp. “I don’t think it’s necessarily a matter of years. Honestly, to me, if a case remains uncharged or unsolved after six months, it’s cold. It’s a matter of the activity involved in the case.”

In 2019, Thorp recognized Cherokee County Sheriff Jason Chennault, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Dale Fine, and retired OSBI Special Agent and DA Investigator Vicky Lyons for their efforts working a cold case: the Denney homicide investigation.

Thorp said the three of them played a vital part in the probe, indictment and conviction for the murder of Jack and Elaine Denney. The DA began working on that case shortly after Thorp became a prosecutor.

When Thorp stepped into his role as first assistant district attorney in 2011, he began to learn about unsolved homicides in District 27. He said it was during the grand jury investigation, looking into the disappearance of Stephan Adams, when he spent a lot of time working the cases from the past.

Another key part of the team was Investigator Jack Goss, who spent many dedicated hours of working on cases even while retired.

“Jack Goss is a legend in local homicide investigations. He truly has a passion for finding the truth,” said Thorp.

Goss is most noted for solving Cherokee County’s Daisy Doe case. He continued to investigate the case 12 years after his retirement, and accompanied arresting officers as they took James Vogel – one of Goss’ prime suspects – into custody.

“I would say that retirees are excellent resources because they continue to want to solve their cases. It’s certainly a matter of pride. For the most part, I can imagine there is a feeling of the job being left ‘undone’,” said Thorp.

There are currently two retirees who work as part-time investigators for the DA’s Office: John Owens and Lyons. Owens is based in Sallisaw, and Thorp called him an excellent resource for with Sequoyah County cases.

Lyons works primarily cold cases districtwide and dealt with many of the cases while she was with the OSBI.

“I honestly couldn’t imagine trying to do these cases without her. She is a wealth of information and is still sharp as a knife. She is truly a legend,” said Thorp.

You can help

Investigators follow up on every tip and every lead that comes their way with each and every cold case. Those with any information on cold cases can call the District 27 District Attorney's Cold Case tipline at 918-772-7568.

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