MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

December 13, 2013

Businessman faces first-degree murder charge

An area businessman facing charges in Cherokee County for allegedly trying to have his estranged wife’s boyfriend murdered now stands accused of first-degree murder in Adair County.

Investigators last week arrested Jesus “Jesse” Cerda for the death of Michael Wayne Shell.

Shell, 45, was found dead in the parking lot of a rural Adair County church near the Cherokee County line in July 2012, said Gary Perkinson, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation assistant agent in charge.

Investigators spent several days trying to identify Shell’s body in 2012. According to the OSBI, Shell, of Stilwell, suffered blunt-force trauma to the head.

Perkinson said Cerda was arrested in Stilwell “without incident.” Court records show Cerda, who has both a Tahlequah and Stilwell address listed in court documents, is charged with first-degree murder in Adair County and is held without bond. He is set for arraignment at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Cerda, 38, was arrested by District 27 Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force members last April and accused of scheming to have the boyfriend of his estranged wife killed.

Investigators said Cerda approached a man earlier in 2013 and offered to pay him to kill the target, and also said he would provide a gun, vehicle and clothes to wear during the murder.

Cerda allegedly told the would-be hitman that money was no object, “as long as the job is done.”

Cerda had been arrested twice in Tahlequah last March: once after he allegedly forced his way into a woman’s home, pulled a gun and tried to force her to help him find his wife; and a second time a few days later when he allegedly tried to intimidate a witness after he was released from jail.

After his Cherokee County arrest on the solicitation charge, Cerda was initially held without bond, but Associate District Judge Mark Dobbins set bond at $150,000 in September and ordered Cerda to be under house arrest. Cerda has pleaded not guilty on the Cherokee County charges.

Josh Newton reports for the Tahlequah Daily Press.

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