MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

August 15, 2012

OSBI to help in probe

McIntosh County sheriff says two deaths aren’t connected

— McINTOSH COUNTY — Agents with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation are assisting the McIntosh Sheriff’s Office with two suspicious deaths.

Robert Hall, 55, was found dead in a pickup parked outside his Hitchita home late Monday night.

Deborah Kathryn Kelsoe, 57, was found dead Tuesday inside her home five miles west of Checotah by firefighters responding to a house fire at her residence.

McIntosh County Sheriff Kevin Ledbetter said the two deaths, which occurred about 10 miles apart from each other, aren’t connected.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the call in Hitchita at 8:34 p.m. when a neighbor said he discovered Hall’s body. OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said deputies discovered signs of trauma on Hall’s body, though Brown declined to say what those signs were.

“It’s too early in the investigation for us to put that out,” Brown said, noting should Hall’s death be ruled a homicide, a widespread knowledge of the wounds could hinder the OSBI investigation.

Hall’s body was at the state medical examiner’s office Tuesday, Brown said.

“I don’t believe he would hurt himself,” Brenda Patterson said.

Patterson works at Starla’s Country Cafe and said she knew Hall.

“Everyone knew him. He was just in here last night,” Patterson said. “I just think he loved his kids too much to do something to himself.”

Less than seven hours after Hall’s body was found, the Checotah Fire Department responded to a house fire. Chief Mike Anderson said the fire was extinguished by 7 a.m.

Inside the house, firefighters found what is believed to be Kelsoe’s body. Brown said the OSBI was treating Kelsoe’s death as a homicide, though she again declined to say what clued investigators in.

“There are circumstances relating to her body that raises a red flag,” Brown said. “We want to do as much investigation as we can into both deaths before too much information is released.”

Kelsoe lived in a red, brick house located off Oklahoma 266. At least four of the home’s windows were broken, and two large holes were cut into the roof for ventilation purposes, Anderson said.

Oklahoma State Fire Marshal agent Mike Tubbs said his agency would determine whether the fire had been set intentionally.

Tubbs described the damage to the home’s interior as “extensive.”

Family members and some firefighters crowded under a makeshift tent to stay out of the sun as investigators entered Kelsoe’s house. McIntosh County Sheriff’s Detective Dewayne Hall said he didn’t expect much movement to be made on the case Tuesday as the investigation began. Hall and Ledbetter both declined to say whether or not there were any suspects the department had in mind.

Darlene Lane said she knew Kelsoe for “about 28 or 29 years.” Lane, a coordinator at Checotah Manor, said Kelsoe was a great person.

“She was good. She was fair. She was kind,” Lane said. “I guarantee you, you had a problem, she was the first person to open her pocket book up to help you.

“I can’t believe someone would do something to her. I’m shocked.”

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth

@muskogeephoenix.com.

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