By JOSH NEWTON
CNHI News Service
Murder charges have been filed against a Muskogee couple accused of brutally killing a Tahlequah man and woman in August.
Jessie Renee Leppke-Redford, 46, allegedly admitted to killing her sister, Angela Findlay, and said her husband, Tracy Lee Redford, 43, was responsible for killing Jesse Catron.
The Redfords are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder with malice aforethought, and one count of robbery with a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors believe the Redfords killed Catron and Findlay sometime between Aug. 12 and Aug. 15.
Court documents filed against the Redfords allege they inflicted mortal wounds to Findlay and Catron by “bludgeoning, battering, [and] stabbing” them.
District Attorney Brian Kuester said prosecutors have filed an alternative charge – murder in the first degree-felony murder – for the death of Findlay to give a jury the opportunity to decide whether Findlay’s death was premeditated or if she died while being robbed.
The bodies of Findlay and Catron were discovered by police at a home on Louellen Street late on Aug. 15.
Jessie Leppke-Redford’s alleged confessions occurred when she was being transported to a hospital on Aug. 18 by Cherokee County Detention Center Officers Joshua Conner and Steven Smith, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed by Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Roger Fine Jr. The Redfords were arrested Aug. 16 for another assault and were being considered “persons of interest” in the double murder.
The Redfords allegedly took a debit card and a state-issued Access card belonging to Findlay. The Access card was used twice on Aug. 14, and Findlay’s bank card had an attempted cash withdrawal and attempted cash advance on Aug. 14 and Aug. 15.
Authorities also allege Jessie Leppke-Redford used her sister’s cell phone to make calls on Aug. 14 and Aug. 15.
A witness claimed the Redfords had been staying at Findlay’s home since Aug. 10, and the two were seen there on Aug. 10 and Aug. 13.
Each murder charge is punishable by death, life in prison, or life in prison without parole; and robbery with a dangerous weapon is punishable by five years to life in prison.
Last month, the Redfords were each charged with 11 counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon and one count of robbery with a dangerous weapon for an alleged attack against Muskogee resident Ernest “Lee” Norfleet.
Norfleet said Jessie Leppke-Redford, an acquaintance, called him late on Aug. 14 and asked for help because she’d had a fight with her sister.
When Norfleet arrived in Tahlequah early on Aug. 15, he was reportedly asked to meet Jessie Leppke-Redford at the Cherokee Inn. At some point, Jessie Leppke-Redford went into the motel room’s bathroom and later exited with Tracy Redford. Both allegedly had knives and began to stab Norfleet repeatedly.
The assault continued in the motel’s parking lot until Norfleet was able to get inside his vehicle and drive himself to a local hospital.
Fine’s affidavit indicates Jessie Leppke-Redford admitted to Tahlequah Police Lt. Billy Dowling and Sgt. Steve Smith that a cut to her arm occurred when she was stabbed by her sister on Aug. 13.
Tracy and Jessie Leppke-Redford are both being held in jail without bond.