MUSTANG — Police arrested the wife of a slain fire chief Friday after investigators found her story about a gun-wielding home intruder didn't square with evidence at the crime scene.
Rebecca Bryan, 52, was arrested at a hotel in Oklahoma City about 12:20 p.m. Friday on a first-degree murder complaint in the shooting death of longtime Nichols Hills Fire Chief Keith Bryan. She was placed in the Canadian County jail in El Reno.
Keith Bryan, 52, was shot once in the head Tuesday night in the Bryans' home in Mustang.
In two 911 calls made by Rebecca Bryan on the night of the shooting, she told a dispatcher a man about 25 or 26 years old wearing a hooded sweatshirt shot her husband before apologizing and saying the chief should have hired him. She said the intruder entered and exited the home through an unlocked garage door and drove away in a small, dark truck.
Keith Bryan was rushed to a hospital where he died the next morning.
In a news conference Friday afternoon, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said police found a Ruger .380-caliber handgun, a spent shell casing and a glove in a clothes dryer at the home. Ammunition and a box for the gun were found between the mattress and box spring of the bed in the master bedroom.
The gun was matched by forensics investigators to a projectile found in the center couch cushion where Keith Bryan was sitting when he was shot.
“The front-loading clothes dryer where the items were found was located in the utility room,” Brown said.
The utility room was not in the pathway Rebecca Bryan told police the intruder took from the garage to the living room and back.
Brown said investigators still are looking into a possible motive in the killing. Although Rebecca Bryan, a real estate agent, had filed for divorce from Keith Bryan in January 2010, they were living together in the home at the time of his shooting. The Bryans have two grown sons who live in their own homes.
Brown would not discuss whether investigators had found gun powder residue or other forensic evidence on Rebecca Bryan's hands or clothes.
“There are still a lot of forensic tests in this going on with different pieces of evidence,” Brown said.
Brown said she doesn't know whether the gun was recently purchased or had been owned by the family for any length of time.
Oklahoma City fire officials initially took extra security precautions because of the story Rebecca Bryan told investigators about an intruder who was disgruntled about not being hired by her husband.
Oklahoma City Fire Chief Keith Bryant's name is one letter away from his counterpart in Nichols Hills, and unlike Nichols Hills, Oklahoma City had gone through a recent hiring process.
Brown said investigators do not believe Rebecca Bryan had an accomplice.
“At this point in time, we have no belief that anyone else was involved in this, but we are still investigating,” Brown said.
Mustang Police Chief Chuck Foley said the crime appears to be an isolated domestic case.
“For a homicide to occur here in Mustang is very rare,” Foley said. “It's a very safe, close-knit community, and this has been alarming to the citizens of Mustang.”
Matt Fleming, a neighbor of the Bryan family, said he saw Keith Bryan leave for work each morning in the Nichols Hills Fire Department vehicle but didn't talk to him.
“It's a quiet neighborhood. Everybody stays to themselves,” Fleming said
“I was shocked” by the shooting, he said.
Jim McNabb, the couple's pastor at The Bridge Assembly of God in Mustang, said he knew the family for 20 years but that they had stopped attending services as frequently as normal during the past year.
McNabb said the Bryans were active in the church, teaching Sunday school classes, singing in the choir and delivering meals to members of the congregation too sick to leave their homes.
“They even did premarital counseling,” McNabb said.
“They were both givers. The whole family was that way.”
As for his reaction to the news of Rebecca Bryan's arrest Friday on murder complaints, the pastor said he was “completely shocked” when he heard the media reports.
“We are just totally baffled by this whole thing,” said McNabb, adding that she once worked at the church as a bookkeeper. “Becky was a sharp, talented lady who was always helping people. I really don't have anything bad to say about her.”
McNabb said he's been in touch with the couple's two grown sons, Trent and Kent Bryan, since Rebecca Bryan's arrest. He said he spoke to both of them on Friday.
“You just can't imagine what they're going through,” he said.
“They don't even know what to feel or think. They're standing by their mom right now, absolutely. They love their mom and they love their dad.”