Four Questioned in Sheriff's Death

Wednesday, October 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The investigation into the weekend slaying of Pawnee County Sheriff Dwight Woodrell Jr. led to the questioning of four people from a Tulsa motel but no arrests Wednesday morning.

None of those questioned was Robert Weller, the name Woodrell gave deputies shortly before being shot near Cleveland on Saturday, said Larry Stuart, district attorney for Osage and Pawnee counties.

``I wish I could tell you we have a suspect under arrest, but we don't at this time,'' Stuart said, hours before Woodrell's scheduled funeral in Cleveland.

He said he could not elaborate on any ties in the case to the four people questioned in Tulsa.

Stuart also clarified earlier reports that the 36-year-old sheriff named Weller as his attacker as he was dying.

Woodrell radioed a dispatcher around 3 a.m. Saturday and said he had stopped at Spess Drilling Co. He said he would be out of the car with a Robert Weller and asked for backup, Stuart said.

When deputies arrived, they found Woodrell shot in his car. The dying sheriff couldn't speak, but indicated the affirmative by squeezing a hand when asked if he knew who shot him, Stuart said.

``What's accurate is he answered as best he could he did know who did this,'' he said.

No suspect by the name Robert Weller has been identified.

Stuart said the oil company had been subjected to several thefts and that Woodrell may have seen something suspicious that he wanted to check out. Deputies saw a pickup leaving the area when they arrived but aren't sure if it was connected to the scene, he said.

On Tuesday, Tulsa police went to the Georgetown Plaza Motel on a tip and found three men and a woman staying in two of the rooms, said Tulsa Police Sgt. Van Ellis. Investigators seized an orange GMC pickup from the motel.

``Investigators are interested in this truck,'' he told the Tulsa World. ``There was an individual staying in the (motel) who has been someone investigators have been interested in taking in for questioning.''

Hundreds of lawmen were expected to attend Woodrell's funeral Wednesday at the Cleveland High School gymnasium. Gov. Frank Keating also was scheduled to speak at the service.

Woodrell was appointed sheriff in 1999 after Sheriff Leroy Bryant resigned, and then won his own four-year term last fall.

He is survived by his widow, Karen, and their four children, ages 9, 7, 5 and 3.
  • Trust funds for the family have been set up at First National Bank of Pawnee, 601 Harrison, Pawnee, OK 74058 and First Bank of Cleveland, 105 W. Caddo, Cleveland, OK 74020.