Oklahoma man admits to killing hitchhiker in 1976

John Benjamin Kennedy Jr., 58, already was in prison already for a 1978 murder when DNA evidence linked him to 1976 hitchhiker's death in Oklahoma City. He agreed Dec. 20 to a 35-year prison sentence.
by Nolan Clay Published: December 30, 2013
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He denied in a police interview in prison in 2010 that he knew the victim.

Kegans left a Pizza Hut in north Oklahoma City, where she worked as a waitress, about 11:45 p.m. Oct. 24, 1976, to go see a boyfriend in Norman, authorities said.

She instead visited with her boyfriend's roommate and stepbrother, Phillip Leslie Hanlin.

She left the apartment about 4 a.m. Oct. 25, 1976.

Hanlin testified at a preliminary hearing he offered to give Kegans a ride if she could wait until he returned from taking his roommate to work later that morning.

“She said she could not wait, that she had promised somebody that she would baby-sit for them that morning and that she herself needed to be there by 7 a.m. or so at the latest,” Hanlin testified.

“She said she was going to go back the same way she came, which was to hitchhike.”

Prosecutors suspect Kennedy picked her up as she hitchhiked back to Oklahoma City.

At the time, Kennedy worked as a bouncer at the Whiskey River Bar in Norman and lived in Midwest City. He was then 21.

He admitted to police in the 2010 prison interview that he had owned a .38-caliber pistol at the time.

In December 1978, an Oklahoma County jury chose a life sentence for Kennedy after finding him guilty of first-degree murder for the prostitute's death.

The 1978 case is considered a landmark case because it was the first time bite-mark evidence was used against a defendant at a criminal trial in Oklahoma. The Court of Criminal Appeals in 1982 upheld the conviction.

The victim, Yvonne Jolene McFaddin, a runaway from Texas, had been strangled by a wire and left half nude in a dry bathtub at the King's Inn Motel in downtown Oklahoma City on May 31, 1978, court records show. Kennedy had bitten her breasts, prosecutors alleged.

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by 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,...
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