LAWTON — In the hours after his dad and brother were killed, Thorsten Rushing described to police a good father who didn’t scream, yell or physically punish him.
Because he was a therapist, Uwe Rushing tended to talk logically with his sons. And he didn’t even speak unkindly of the boys’ mother, who had been absent from their lives for nine years because of a drug problem.
Thorsten Rushing is now charged with murder and conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 20 deaths of his father and younger brother, Stefan, 14. Police allege in court documents that Thorsten Rushing shot them both suffocating suffocated his brother when he “didn’t bleed out fast enough.”
What hasn’t yet been revealed is a motive, but a subpoena filed in the case offers a hint. Comanche County Assistant District Attorney Mark Stoneman on Feb. 5 asked for records relating to Uwe Rushing’s employment at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, specifically “all documents related to survivor benefits.” Thorsten Rushing recently had turned 18.
Stoneman also subpoenaed records from Lawton Public Schools on the Rushings and co-defendants in the case. When contacted by phone last week, Stoneman declined to comment because the cases are pending.
Autopsy reports reveal Stefan Rushing was shot three times, in the head and face, and the medical examiner also found blood aspiration in his windpipe and bronchi, the passageway to the lungs. Uwe Rushing, 50, died of gunshots to the chest and head, according to an autopsy report.
The two were wearing white undershirts and underwear at the time of their deaths, and Uwe Rushing had a blood-alcohol level of 0.14, records show.
Preliminary hearings for Thorsten Rushing and four co-defendants — Ethan Thompson, 19, Wesley Bankston, 18, Cody Davis, 19, and Timothy Delahoy, 18 — are coming up in Lawton. Rushing, Thompson, Davis and Delahoy are scheduled for Wednesday. Bankston’s hearing is scheduled for April 15.
All the young men are charged with two counts of conspiracy. Additionally, Thompson and Bankston face two counts of first-degree murder, and Davis and Delahoy face two counts of being an accessory after the fact.
Stephen Jones, an attorney representing Thorsten Rushing, said his office is reviewing 4,000 pages of discovery provided by law enforcement and preparing for the preliminary hearing.
“He’ll enter a plea of not guilty,” said Jones, who was the lead attorney for Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing trial.
Thompson, Davis and Delahoy confessed to their involvement, authorities said. Police said they believe Thorsten Rushing was the lone shooter.
Police said Thompson hid in a closet for hours until the shooting was carried out, and Bankston drove Thompson and the gun police said Rushing used from the scene afterward, resulting in their first-degree murder charges.
Wholesome and protective
Search warrants filed in Comanche County District Court on March 20 add details to what is known about the days and hours before the killings.
Uwe Rushing seemed to be a wholesome and protective dad to his two sons. Born in Nuremberg, Germany, he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cameron University in Lawton and was working as a youth counselor in SWOSU’s adventure program at the time of his death, according to an obituary.
He was active outdoors and enjoyed hunting, fishing, rock climbing, rappelling and coaching his son’s soccer team. On the day of the killings, he had taken Stefan Rushing fishing.
Police seized guns from a safe in the master bedroom, including nine pistols, 12 rifles and five 12-gauge shotguns, plus several boxes of ammunition and two wallets each containing more than $1,000 cash.
The family’s home is surrounded by a chain-link fence, the only house in the area with such a fence. A small grove of pine trees, which seems oddly out of place in the neighborhood, obscures the front of the house. A sign hanging from the front section of the fence warns of a dangerous dog, yet neighbors say no canine lived on the property.
“They liked to be secure,” said Bethany Sellman, a neighbor and close friend of Stefan Rushing, in the days after the slayings. “It seemed like they were always prepared … or preparing for something.”
Rushing was separated from his sons’ mother, Lavonne Bynum, who struggled with a drug problem, according to an affidavit filed with search warrants in the case. Police sought warrants to search the Rushing home, a vehicle driven by Bankston, a yard where the gun they believe was used in the shooting was fired and cellphones of the victims and suspects.
Bynum had been trying to re-establish contact with her sons, calling Uwe Rushing and asking to speak with them and sending birthday and Christmas cards to the home. Uwe Rushing told a neighbor she had been threatening him since their divorce because he had custody, and he believed she had sent an intruder to harass him Jan 17. Police said they believe that incident was a failed murder attempt by one of the men involved in the Jan. 20 killing.
In an interview with police, Bynum denied enlisting people to harass her ex-husband. She had, however, driven by herself several times in an attempt to catch a glimpse of her sons.
She described Uwe Rushing as “extremely abusive physically, mentally and emotionally to her” when they were together. She blamed him for not being able to see her children. In an interview with police, Thorsten Rushing said neither him nor his brother wanted to see her, and they had stopped opening the cards.
“She had not seen the kids in nine years because she was so messed up but now that she was clean and had gotten her life together, she wanted to be in her sons’ lives again,” the affidavit states. “She wanted them to know she loved them.”
When contacted by phone, Bynum declined to be interviewed.
Uwe Rushing was going out his back door Jan. 17 when he encountered a man in a black hoodie. The man ran and scaled a fence, a neighbor told police. Uwe Rushing drew his pistol, which he carried for self-defense, aimed at the man, but didn’t shoot. That gun — a 9 mm Glock — later was used to kill him, authorities allege.
Police said the man in the hoodie was Davis. They said Davis was waiting at the back door for Thorsten Rushing to shoot Uwe and Stefan Rushing and hand him the gun, then drive away with Delahoy. Something went wrong, and after the failed attempt, Davis and Delahoy backed out and didn’t want anything to do with the murder plot, police said.
Davis told police that a week or two before, Thorsten Rushing had shot video of the inside of the home to show him how to enter the home, find Stefan and Uwe Rushing, and assist in the killings.
The shooting occurred Jan. 20. Thorsten Rushing called 911 at 2:35 a.m. to report a home invasion in which his dad and brother were shot. He told police he was sleeping in the living room when two men wearing surgical booties, caps and masks came in through the kitchen and started shooting. He said he fired a shotgun at them and the men fled.
But police said evidence and bullet trajectories discount that story. Several bullet casings were found during a search of the home, 1116 NW Columbia Ave., including two under a makeshift sleeping mattress on the living room floor.
And as police interviewed Thorsten Rushing’s friends, his story further unraveled, and three of the men confessed, records show.