Recent Articles from NewsOK and The Oklahoman

  • DHS is thankful for students’ efforts

    BY HEATHER WARLICK | Updated: Thu, Jan 8, 2009

    Oklahoma families statewide are preparing for the holidays by shopping for turkeys, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pies and all the traditional fixings for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner. But for some Oklahomans, an unstable economy, job losses and higher prices for food and other commodities mean that...

  • Survey: Half in Oklahoma use child care

    By Cathy Spaulding / Muskogee Phoenix | Published: Sun, Dec 28, 2008

    Designating whether a county is in a standard or enhanced area is one of six factors the Oklahoma Department of Human Services uses to determine state rates paid to child care facilities. ''The department is always monitoring and assessing policies and procedures," said Beth Scott of the DHS...

  • Group cites examples in Oklahoma DHS suit

    BY RANDY ELLIS | Updated: Sat, Dec 27, 2008

    DHS received serious complaints of abuse and neglect involving foster children in its care but failed to disclose the complaints to judges handling their child welfare cases, according to documents filed in an ongoing Tulsa federal lawsuit against the agency. In one 2007 case, a boy told an...

  • Details emerge in Ada pastor’s molestation case

    BY JOHNNY JOHNSON | Updated: Wed, Dec 24, 2008

    ADA — Authorities said a preacher told the Pontotoc County undersheriff he did not know why he had been molesting two boys for several months, but it might have something to do with blood pressure medications he took. Kenneth Wayne Huneycutt, 60, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, was...

  • Tight funds worry Oklahoma agencies

    BY JULIE BISBEE | Updated: Tue, Dec 23, 2008

    Darrell Weaver recalls the last time the state struggled to make ends meet. Weaver, now the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs director, was working with agents who were trying to stop the drug trade here in 2003, when the state suffered a $700 million shortfall. "It was just a very...

  • Funeral set for 4-year-old Chickasha girl

    | Updated: Sun, Dec 21, 2008

    CHICKASHA Funeral set for 4-year-old girl Funeral arrangements have been made for a Chickasha preschooler who died Thursday evening after the car she was in rolled down her driveway and hit a tree. Four-year-old Emily Danielle Geddes died after the crash outside her home in the 1300 block of S...

  • Funeral planned for Chickasha girl who died in driveway crash

    From Staff Reports | Published: Sat, Dec 20, 2008

    CHICKASHA — Funeral arrangements have been made for a Chickasha preschooler who died Thursday evening after the car she was left alone in rolled down her driveway and hit a tree. Four-year-old Emily Danielle Geddes died following the car crash outside her home in the 1300 block of S. 14 St....

  • Questions lingering in 4-year-old Chickasha girl's death

    BY JOHNNY JOHNSON | Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2008

    CHICKASHA — Police and investigators with the state Department of Human Services are trying to figure out how a 4-year-old girl was killed when the car she had been left alone in apparently rolled out of a driveway Thursday evening and struck a tree. Police are not releasing much...

  • PLUGGING IN: Global Power marks profit

    Updated: Thu, Dec 18, 2008

    OKLAHOMA Global Power marks profit TULSA — Global Power Equipment Group Inc. reported profits of $17 million on revenues of $129.9 million for the three-month period ended Sept. 30. The Tulsa company, which designs and makes power generating systems, had forecast quarterly revenue of $93.7...

  • Spencer boy left unattended in car spurs charges for woman

    BY JAY F. MARKS | Updated: Tue, Dec 16, 2008

    A Spencer woman was charged Tuesday with child neglect, accused of leaving a 5-year-old boy in her vehicle for four hours while she went to a doctor’s appointment in October. Tammy Terell Harding, a former day-care operator, told police she forgot the boy was there. "Accidents...

  • Oklahoma licensing law closes Edmond day care

    FROM STAFF REPORTS | Updated: Thu, Dec 11, 2008

    EDMOND — A child care center is shutting down indefinitely today as operators seek licensing through the state Department of Human Services. On Wednesday, officials at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School posted an announcement for parents about the closing of the school’s Child...

  • Rogers County man pleads guilty to murder of 4-year-old

    By Staff Reports | Updated: Wed, Dec 10, 2008

    CLAREMORE – A Rogers County man pleaded guilty today to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life without the chance of parole for the beating death of his girlfriend’s son, said prosecutor Ray Hasselman. Steven Wayde Lockler, Jr., 28, of Claremore entered the plea in Rogers County...

  • IN BRIEF: Man wounded in Locust Grove shoot-out

    Updated: Mon, Dec 8, 2008

    LOCUST GROVE MAN WOUNDED IN SHOOT-OUT A man was in critical condition Monday after a shoot-out with law enforcement officers Sunday afternoon, authorities said. Robert Lee Thompson, 37, of Rose, armed with two rifles, took a resident hostage near Locust Grove about 2 p.m., Oklahoma Highway Patrol...

  • Oklahoma DHS parenting program success cited

    BY MICHAEL MCNUTT | Updated: Fri, Dec 5, 2008

    A pilot program to reduce child abuse and neglect is showing results and should continue to receive state funding, a coordinator of the program told a state House committee Thursday. The Safe Care Plus program consists of teaching basic skills to parents of children ranging in age from infants to...

  • Oklahoma plaintiffs cite DHS ‘disarray’

    BY RANDY ELLIS | Updated: Fri, Dec 5, 2008

    TULSA — Nine Oklahoma foster children were bounced around among 176 primary caseworkers because of "severe disarray” within DHS, attorneys said in documents filed Thursday in Tulsa federal court. The state Department of Human Services also had 125 secondary workers and 190...

  • Oklahoma foster system in "severe disarray," lawsuit claims

    BY RANDY ELLIS | Published: Thu, Dec 4, 2008

    TULSA — Nine Oklahoma foster children were bounced around among 176 primary caseworkers because of “severe disarray” within DHS, attorneys said in documents filed Thursday in Tulsa federal court. The state Department of Human Services also had 125 secondary workers and 190 supervisors...

  • In brief: Crime

    | Updated: Thu, Dec 4, 2008

    LAWTON FBI ARRESTS 3 IN BANK HOLDUP Authorities arrested a Lawton bank branch manager and two Stillwater men in connection with a robbery at the bank, the FBI said. A man wearing a mask went into City National Bank, 4510 SE Lee Blvd., on Tuesday and gave a note demanding money to the manager,...

  • Ex-DHS employee facing new charge in Tulsa

    By The Associated Press | Updated: Wed, Dec 3, 2008

    TULSA -- Prosecutors have accused a former Department of Human Services employee of taking money from an elderly nursing home resident. Debra Maxine Roberts was charged Monday with financially exploiting vulnerable adults for allegedly taking nearly $4,500 in funds belonging to James True,...

  • Turnover rate of Oklahoma DHS case workers slows

    By The Associated Press | Published: Tue, Dec 2, 2008

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- The turnover rate of child welfare workers at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services is slowing, but officials with the agency say the rate is still too high. Last year's turnover rate was about 44 percent, but DHS officials say the trend is moving in the right direction...

  • Foster child’s family united in mourning

    BY MICHAEL KIMBALL | Updated: Mon, Dec 1, 2008

    The family of John Gifford, 5, was united in love for him at a joint funeral service for his mother’s and father’s families. "We just wanted a respectful service for our son and to put aside all the other things,” said John’s father, Melvern Gifford, 40. "We all...

  • Oklahoma manager adopts a caring career

    | Updated: Sat, Nov 29, 2008

    TULSA — Linda Foster’s career choice — placing children in adoptive homes — is a daily reminder of her grandfather, whose love and devotion sustain her during the dark hours of a job that can be both difficult and joyful. Foster is one of two adoption program managers in...

  • Boy’s kin to mourn in private

    | Published: Sat, Nov 29, 2008

    11AThe biological family was barred from the funeral of a foster child accidentally hit by a car. However, relatives of John Gifford, 5, said the state Department of Human Services will let them hold a private service at the funeral home. While relatives are grateful for the chance to say...

  • Dead foster child’s Oklahoma family will hold separate service

    BY JOHNNNY JOHNSON | Updated: Fri, Nov 28, 2008

    The biological family of a 5-year-old boy who was hit by a car and killed while in state Department of Human Services custody will not be allowed to attend his funeral and burial, but the state is granting them a private memorial service. John Brian Gifford, who was in the care of a foster...

  • Oklahoma family mourns for little boy

    BY JOHNNY JOHNSON | Updated: Thu, Nov 27, 2008

    Dewanna Cleary was looking forward to getting her Wednesday newspaper from outside her apartment and looking at the recipes, but she never made it past a smiling face, half-hidden in the shadow of an oversized yellow hat. That was her grandson in the photo on the front page of The Oklahoman, and...

  • Foster-care death in Wilson to get scrutiny

    BY RANDY ELLIS AND MICHAEL KIMBALL | Updated: Wed, Nov 26, 2008

    WILSON — A 5-year-old boy in foster care died Tuesday when a 13-year-old girl put into gear a sport utility vehicle she was warming up, running into the boy on a private driveway in Carter County, officials said. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol identified the victim as John Gifford of Wilson,...

  • Final free flu vaccinations set for December

    FROM STAFF REPORTS | Updated: Wed, Nov 26, 2008

    The final free influenza vaccinations offered this season by the Oklahoma City-County Health Department are scheduled for the first two weeks of December. Childhood immunizations also will be available at some sites. Immunizations are free, but donations will be accepted. The main health...

  • Grandmother of boy killed in Wilson wreck said he was in foster care

    BY RANDY ELLIS - Staff Writer | Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2008

    WILSON, Okla. - A 5-year-old boy has been killed when he was hit by a car after a 13-year-old started it to warm it up. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says 5-year-old John Gifford of Wilson died in the accident in Carter County just before 11 Tuesday morning.

  • Number of Oklahoma children in foster care drops

    By The Associated Press | Published: Wed, Nov 19, 2008

    OKLAHOMA CITY --The average daily number of Oklahoma children in out-of-home foster care has dropped below 7,000 for the first time in more than three years. September's number was reported at 6,902, Department of Human Services figures released Tuesday show. It marked the sixth-straight...

  • Oklahoma volunteers make 100-plus blankets for kids

    Updated: Wed, Nov 19, 2008

    Volunteers with Project Linus made more than 100 blankets for children during their recent Make-A-Blanket Day. The blankets will go to local charities, hospitals and state Department of Human Services offices. The group gathered Nov. 8 at The Stitching Post to make blankets. The nonprofit...

  • Norman nursing home cited in report

    BY ANN KELLEY | Updated: Wed, Nov 19, 2008

    NORMAN — The state Health Department has cited a Norman nursing home for failing to fully investigate abuse allegations and endangering patients’ health by not providing condoms to a sexually active, HIV-positive nursing home resident. The two infractions were among 16 serious...

  • Oklahoma state lawmaker wants schoolkids to be weighed

    BY MICHAEL MCNUTT | Updated: Wed, Nov 19, 2008

    Concerned by estimates that half of Oklahomans are overweight, a state legislator said Tuesday he will file legislation requiring students to be checked annually to identify possible weight problems. All students 16 years and younger would be required to have a screening to check their body mass...

  • Allegations of Whispering Pines Nursing Center in Norman

    Updated: Tue, Nov 18, 2008

    factbox_subhead_lead Inspectors with the state Health Department targeted allegations that an aide at Whispering Pines Nursing Center forced a patient into a shower with his clothing on, and multiple claims of nursing home residents assaulting one another. They found that abuse complaints were...

  • Volunteers make blankets for kids in OKC

    Updated: Mon, Nov 17, 2008

    Volunteers with Project Linus made more than 100 blankets for children during their recent Make-A-Blanket Day. The blankets will go to local charities, hospitals and state Department of Human Services offices. The group gathered Nov. 8 at The Stitching Post and spent the day making blankets to...

  • Norman bank collects treats for troops

    Updated: Fri, Nov 14, 2008

    Bank collects treats for troops IBC Bank’s branch at 2403 W Main St. is involved through Nov. 30 in a drive to collect care package items for U.S. troops abroad. A shopping list of suggested items, such as gum, travel-size toiletries and playing cards, is available at participating...

  • Secret Santas need some help granting wishes

    By Tami Althoff | Updated: Tue, Nov 11, 2008

    NORMAN — Having been blessed with wonderful parents (who are still married to each other), I don’t know what it’s like to be abused, neglected or abandoned. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be taken from my home, no matter how bad it is, and be placed in the care of...

  • Elk City woman and boyfriend were on probation

    BY RANDY ELLIS | Updated: Tue, Nov 11, 2008

    An Elk City woman and her boyfriend were on probation for enabling child neglect when her 3-year-old son was killed Nov. 4. The boyfriend, Rocky Allen Moore, 22, of Elk City, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the beating death of Ryan Weeks. The child’s mother, Trinity...



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DHS Investigative Team

Nolan Clay


Sr. Reporter

Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials, exposed shysters and resulted in reforms in such areas as day care oversight and workers' compensation court. He is a proud father and longtime fan of University of Oklahoma football. His wedding in 2001 was on the 50-yard line of OU's football field.

Randy Ellis


Capitol Bureau Reporter

For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two college presidents being sentenced to prison and a former chancellor being forced to resign. He has written about abuses of Oklahoma's workers' compensation system, corruption in the state's municipal bond industry, bid-rigging by county officials, self-dealing by state housing officials, misconduct involving state legislators and a variety of other topics. Ellis has won more than 80 state, regional and national awards for journalistic excellence. Prior to joining The Oklahoman in 1982, Ellis worked at Arkansas newspapers. He is a 1977 graduate of Kansas State University.

The Oklahoman's Watchdog team is a dedicated group of journalists here to expose corruption in Oklahoma. If you have any information about possible fraud, waste or abuse click on the
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