2 Confess To Murder Of Cherokee County Rancher As Community Mourns

Friday, July 31st 2015, 6:58 pm
By: News On 6

Five days after Cherokee County rancher Charley Kirk was shot and killed in his home, investigators say two people have confessed. 

According to Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault, Paul Newberry, 24, and Cheyenne Watts, 22, said they went to burglarize Kirk's home and shot him when he woke up and confronted them.

Kirk, 88, was shot and killed in his home late Sunday night. Long-time friends of the rancher said they just want to see his murder solved.

Charley was a regular at the Hungry House Cafe, a restaurant in Keys, and I spoke to a number of his friends about the impact he had on the community. Even in his 80s, he made a point of gathering with his fellow ranchers at the cafe.

"Everyone knew him - from here to there - I worked for him for 17 years," said Harold Thompson.

Also part of that circle of friends: Harold's grandson, 10-year-old Briar Bray. 

"I've known him for 5 or 6 years. The last time I saw him he was sitting right over there; right next to me, and that was it," Briar said.

Early Monday morning - a ranch hand found Kirk's body in the hallway of his home. He had been shot to death.

The news rattled the entire community.

7/28/2015 Related Story: Murdered Cherokee County Rancher's All-Terrain Vehicle Stolen, Burned

"I couldn't imagine someone doing that. I was devastated. He was a kind person with a lot of friends, and it broke my heart," said Samantha Adamson.

"He was kind. I don't think he ever said anything a tiny bit mean.  He was just a kind guy," Briar said.

A day after Charley Kirk's murder, Robert Harbuck, maintenance director for Keys High School, found a burned out all-terrain vehicle behind the school. He called the fire department, and investigators quickly realized it had been stolen from Charlie Kirk's ranch.

"Not knowing if maybe I had got here earlier, I could figure out who it was I could help them solve the crime - cause it was Charlie," said Robert Harbuck.

While investigators worked to solve the case, those living in this small town weren't taking any chances.

"I moved a pistol near my bed, and I've never done that before," said Kirk's friend Harold Thompson.

"It's an uneasy feeling.  You don't know if they've been in here or sat down in my parking lot," Samantha Adamson said. "It's sad. It's just sad.