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Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation defends its record of closing slaying cases

BY RON JACKSON Published: April 7, 2010

/> The slaying deaths of Poteau bar owner Joe Neff on May 13, 2009, Buffalo Valley’s Frieda Dighton on June 5, 2008, and Wister’s Jody Rile Wilson in December 2007 are among other recent cases growing cold.

"I’d want to see a list of OSBI’s homicide cases,” said Marie Pitchford, Neff’s daughter. "I’d have to see the list to believe it. Show me in black and white — same thing I’d ask from an accountant.

"In my father’s case, they still haven’t interviewed our family. We were told if we had any important information, we would bring it to them. They just didn’t have time to deal with us. But what if I have some little piece of information that’s important and I don’t know?”

‘The tool in the toolbox’
Brown defended OSBI’s investigators, noting that many of them have more than 20 years of law enforcement experience.

Asked whether they are spread too thin, she replied, "We could always use more agents.”

"Small, rural agencies don’t have the manpower or the tools,” Brown said. "We’ve always considered ourselves the tool in the toolbox of law enforcement.”

In Guthrie, Maria Wilson remains skeptical of OSBI’s claims. Wilson is the daughter of Frieda Dighton, a 67-year-old widow who was killed in her Buffalo Valley home.

The OSBI did a poor job of communicating with the slain woman’s family, Wilson said.

"We’re not idiots just because we are the victim’s relatives,” Wilson said. "We knew her lifestyle, her likes and dislikes, who she knew and so forth. And yet we have been treated as though we’re a bother.

"We suggested they take a look at one individual, and were told we were just complicating the investigation. Now that individual is a suspect in the case.”

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By the numbers
OSBI homicide clearance rates

Year Rate Deaths*

2009 83.7% 151

2008 86.0% 145

2007 86.8% 137

2006 90.7% 128

2005 96.0% 132

*Homicide/suspicious deaths

Source: Oklahoma State

Bureau of Investigation

ONLINE
"�Video

To watch a video from the news

conference on the OSBI’s homicide

clearance rates, go to

NewsOK.com and search

for "OSBI.”

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