Anadarko inquiry into pastor’s death continues

| September 3, 2009

ANADARKO — Investigators have searched the living quarters of a man who said he saw the Rev. Carol Daniels’ killer, interviewed at least one convicted felon and are looking to question another felon with Caddo County ties as the quest continues to make an arrest in the Aug. 23 homicide.

Robert Richardson — a local drifter who goes by the nickname "Florida Kid” — said he told police he saw the killer exit the Christ Holy Sanctified Church as he drank a beer across the street at a grungy car wash where he sometimes lives.

"Suddenly, I looked up and saw this man leaving the church all covered in blood,” said Richardson, who sometimes sleeps in the equipment room of the car wash and sometimes beds in a nearby garage. "I was shocked. He was a big guy … black, bald head, and he was carrying a knife. He turned (north along Broadway Avenue), though, so I didn’t get a good look at his face. I think he was wearing some sort of overalls, but to be honest, I couldn’t really tell.”

The body of Daniels, 61, was found by police about 12:10 p.m. Aug. 23, nude and in what appeared to be a crucifix position on the blood-soaked carpet behind the church altar. A medical examiner’s report shows she was savagely cut about the neck, left breast, stomach and back.

Sources close to the investigation told The Oklahoman the killer left with Daniels’ clothes and used some sort of dissolving spray around the body.

Richardson, 63, said he went to the Anadarko Police Department later in the day Sunday to report what he had seen. He said he waited because he had been drinking and didn’t think police would believe him.

"They told me to go home and they’d have someone come talk to me,” Richardson said. "Later, some OSBI (Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation) agents came to see me. But they just looked around my place (the garage) suspicious-like, and didn’t seem too interested in what I had to say.”

OSBI Inspector Steve Neuman neither confirmed nor denied agents visited Richardson.

"I hadn’t heard that name, but that doesn’t mean agents didn’t talk to him,” Neuman said. "Let’s put it this way, if he were someone important, I would have known about him.”

Tips continue to flow in from the public, but Neuman said they have amounted to "nothing substantial.”

"No arrests have been made,” Neuman added. "This is going to be a slow, ongoing investigation.”

Neuman confirmed investigators are trying to find convicted felon Michael Hinton Jr., who grew up in the neighborhood where Danies was killed.

"He’s one of about 50 people we’re looking to talk to,” Neuman said. "I wouldn’t rank him any higher than anyone else.”

Hinton was charged along with Lawrence Nuckols Jr. in Caddo County in June 1980 with the first-degree rape of a female younger than 14, according to county court records. Hinton served nearly 14 years in prison for kidnapping the girl. Nuckols received 10 years on a conviction for the rape charge, county records show.

Hinton, 54, is the son of Mildred Hinton — a close friend of Daniels and a Christ Holy Sanctified Church founding member. Mildred Hinton died in December.

"He hasn’t lived in Oklahoma in eight years,” said Lawrence Hinton of Anadarko, who is Michael Hinton Jr.’s brother. "The last time I saw him was in December at our mother’s funeral. The police know he didn’t kill her, so I don’t know why they’re hunting him.”

Erin Hinton, 28, said OSBI agents have questioned her about her father’s whereabouts, but she said the two have been estranged for years.

"She (Daniels) was such a beautiful person. We were very close. She blessed my four children.”

As for Nuckols, neighbors say they haven’t seen him in Anadarko in more than a year.

Lawrence Nuckols Sr. said police interviewed him briefly but he doesn’t know whether they have questioned any other relatives. Nuckols Sr.’s home is about 90 feet from the back of the church.

Convicted felon Newton Akeen of Carnegie voluntarily came in for questioning, Neuman said.

Akeen, 43, spent time in prison for kidnapping, unauthorized use of a vehicle and robbery. He was released from prison in 2005, according to state Corrections Department records.

"My brother didn’t have anything to do with this … ,” said Georgia Akeen of Gracemont. "Basically, if you’re an Indian and you walk by the police department in Anadarko, you’re going to get pulled in for questioning. It’s an outrage.

"I know my brother was convicted of a violent crime, but he’s innocent. … He was at home with his wife and stepdaughter.”

Last week, a television crew filmed investigators removing several bags from the cellar of a rent house two doors from the church. Owner Alicia Theif said she thought someone might have slept in the cellar overnight and reported the suspected break-in to police last Thursday.

Neuman declined to comment on the potential evidence.

"I don’t know if there’s any connection or not,” Theif said. "I just hope they catch whoever did this. It’s scary.”

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