Editor's Note: This story is part one of a three-part series examining the operations of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. It is a joint project of The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World.
Copyright 2010, The Oklahoman
An Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation insider has accused the agency of "incompetence, laziness and fraud" in its handling of homicide cases, use of federal funds and publication of crime clearance rates.
He says the agency has allowed murder suspects — linked to crimes by DNA, witnesses and other evidence — to wander free.
And he describes OSBI as an agency at war with itself, rife with internal distrust and conflict between field agents and laboratory workers.
Kyle Eastridge, a veteran Oklahoma City police homicide detective, was hired by OSBI as a cold case investigator in January. He resigned July 15.
"The OSBI is a high performance car — you've got the state-of-the-art crime lab, the equipment, all the extras — driven by amateur drivers," Eastridge told The Oklahoman. "I blame the leadership. I hope the OSBI Commission will really investigate what's going on there and get someone competent in place."
Jessica Brown, OSBI spokeswoman, said Eastridge is misinformed. She said the cases he cited are in the hands of district attorneys, not the OSBI.
The commission, a seven-member board overseeing the agency, is expected to name an interim director Tuesday to succeed A. DeWade Langley, who has accepted a position at the University of Central Oklahoma. The commission is planning a nationwide search for his permanent successor.
Langley canceled an interview with The Oklahoman last week after reviewing a list of topics reporters wanted to discuss with him. He addressed some of the issues in a letter.
Stanley Glanz, Tulsa County sheriff and commission vice chair, said: "I think some of the criticism is undeserved. They have a lot of difficult cases they're working with. ... They do the best they can with the funds they are given and the agents they have."
OSBI agents investigate some of the state's highest profile crimes, particularly those which occur outside of major metropolitan areas. Because the agency has little original jurisdiction, most OSBI investigations are done at the request of local law enforcement.
OSBI also provides support operations for other agencies, including advanced forensics work used by prosecutors in violent crime cases. Assets include a $30 million crime lab in Edmond.
Eastridge alleges that:
Among those cases is the 1982 death of Wilfredo Osorio. An Oklahoma County prosecutor was willing to file charges seven years ago, but the case disappeared into OSBI's bureaucratic "limbo" and nothing was done, Eastridge said. Another case has languished for five years.
Eastridge blamed the alleged lapses on laziness and insufficient supervision.
"People don't want to follow through on things because it's a hassle. ... I really don't see how you can justify that mentality when you're dealing with the biggest hurt someone can be dealt in their life: the loss of a loved one," he said. "But they do it anyway."
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said his office does not have the Osorio case.
"The information we have is that the assistant DA who screened the case sent it back (to OSBI) for more work, and from all our records and research, it never made it back to our office," he said.