The Edmond Sun

August 15, 2012

McIntosh County officials investigate pair of suspicious deaths

Wendy Burton
CNHI News Service

MUSKOGEE — Officials have determined a house fire was intentionally set where firefighters found a possible homicide victim Tuesday.

Deborah Kathryn Kelsoe, 57, was found dead in her home about five miles west of Checotah on Tuesday morning.

“We do know there was a fire set in the house,” said McIntosh County Sheriff’s Deputy Dewayne Hall. “There was more than one fire set in the house, and we know it was not an accidental fire.”

Joann Sellers, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal’s Office, said Wednesday the agent who investigated the fire confirmed the fire was “an act of arson.”

Agents with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation were called in to assist because deputies found signs of trauma to Kelsoe’s body, though details about those injuries have not been released by the OSBI.

The investigation into Kelsoe’s death is ongoing, as the OSBI awaits results from the State Medical Examiner on an exact cause of death. Funeral services for Kelsoe have been set for 1 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church in Checotah.

Another suspicious death in McIntosh County remains under investigation as well. Monday night, Robert Hall, 55, was found dead in his truck outside his home in Hitchita.

Jessica Brown, OSBI spokeswoman, said agents are waiting for a report from the state medical examiner in Hall’s case, as well. Brown said Tuesday there were wounds found on Hall’s body but declined to be more specific to protect the investigation.

McIntosh County Sheriff Kevin Ledbetter said they have already determined the two suspicious deaths, though only 10 miles apart, are unrelated.

Funeral services for Hall have been set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Faith Community Church in Whitefield.

WENDY BURTON writes for the Muskogee Phoenix.