Oklahoma City man eliminated as suspect in fatal beatings

Friday, April 12th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAPULPA, Okla. (AP) _ Creek County authorities have eliminated an Oklahoma City man as a suspect in the beating deaths of a rural Sapulpa man and his girlfriend.

Investigators questioned Michael J. Roberts in the fatal beatings of Earl Martin Kirkwood Jr. and Karen Kay Strange, but Roberts passed a polygraph test earlier this month and is no longer thought to be involved, officials said.

The bodies of Kirkwood, 55, and Strange, 41, were found March 28 at a home west of Sapulpa. The state Medical Examiner ruled that both died of blunt trauma of the head.

``We still believe that there is no way that one person could have done this,'' said Mike O'Keefe, chief deputy of the Creek County Sheriff's Office. ``Was it impossible? No. But we have reason to believe more than one individual was involved.''

No one has been arrested in the killings.

The sheriff's office has questioned nearly a dozen people and it is following numerous ``good'' leads, O'Keefe said.

``We feel like every day is getting us closer to the who and the why,'' he said.

Investigators are still operating on the theory that the crimes were ``biker-related or drug-related,'' O'Keefe said.

Records show the couple had drug convictions, and that methamphetamine was found on the property. Kirkwood was a former officer in the Bandidos motorcycle club, O'Keefe said.

Identifying those who may have knowledge about the slayings has been difficult because people who run in biker circles often are known only by their nicknames, O'Keefe said. People also are reluctant to get involved in a homicide investigation, he said.

``At times, it's kind of like pulling teeth,'' the deputy said. ``But we're used to working around things like that.''