Arrest Made In Murder Of Tulsa Businessman

Thursday, June 4th 2009, 11:19 am
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Police announced Thursday morning that they have made an arrest in the murder of Neal Sweeney. 

Sweeney was a beloved family man and respected businessman who was gunned down inside his office nine months ago.

Police say 23-year-old Terrico Bethel confessed to killing Sweeney on behalf of others. Who those others are right now remains a mystery, but the motive seems to be business.

"It was a dispute about how you do business," Tulsa Police Chief Ron Palmer said. "I don't know how to phrase it. This is what I charge, this is what we deliver, contract terms, those types of issues."

Police believed from the beginning it was a murder-for-hire scheme.

In January, a man came forward who knew details of the crime, like the layout of Sweeney's office, that a revolver was the murder weapon, the getaway van had been stolen in Muskogee two days earlier and Bethel was the shooter.

Officers found that van a month later and processed it for evidence. Bethel was arrested that same month for traffic violations and a marijuana charge.

A second witness came forward in April who also pointed the finger at Bethel. That witness said Bethel told him details of the crime like he used a .38-caliber revolver, had hit Sweeney once on the head and that Sweeney didn't die immediately.

Police say Bethel confessed he was the hitman. The next logical step is to find the people above him.

"I want to emphasize this is still ongoing," Palmer said. "It is not over. We are committed to pursuing other leads and leads that exist right noww that may lead to charges of other individuals."

Police did say they have served warrants and questioned a local couple in connection with this case.

Records show Retail Fuels had sued Muhammad Jamil, Mohammed Aziz and Shahada Parveen with Jay's Cardinal Corner convenience store for outstanding debts.

Aziz was ordered to pay more than $200,000 in May 2008. The suit against the other two was dropped.

There is still a $25,000 reward for anyone who comes forward with information that leads to more arrests in the case.

Sweeney's wife, Jan Sweeney, said the family does not want to talk at this time and asked the media to respect their privacy.

2/5/2009 Related story: New Clues In Sweeney Murder Case

Read affidavit filed by the Tulsa County DA's office.