Robbery the apparent motive in shootings

Tuesday, February 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

GLENPOOL, Okla. (AP) -- Robbery apparently was the motive for a weekend shooting in rural Glenpool that left one woman dead, one man critically injured and a pregnant woman hospitalized, authorities said Monday.

Cenessa Tackett, who is seven months pregnant, was upgraded to good condition at St. John Medical Center.

Bound with duct tape and suffering from gunshot wounds to the neck and shoulder, Tackett, 21, managed to escape from a bedroom closet in the home of Teresa and Harry Hye, get to her cellular phone and call 911, police said.

According to a police report, Tackett said she pulled Hye, her 64-year-old uncle, from the closet to the living room and tried to remove Mrs. Hye, 42, but she was dead.

Hye remained in critical condition at Hillcrest Medical Center, suffering from a gunshot to the temple and burns, a hospital spokeswoman said.

"I'm very seldom at a loss for words," Tulsa County Chief Deputy Brian Edwards said. "But this thing is just horrible."

Michael Allen Browning, 25, of Sand Springs, and Joel Shane Pethel, 24, of Sapulpa, are in the Tulsa Jail on complaints of first-degree murder, shooting with intent to kill and first-degree arson, records show. Browning also is being held on complaints of use of a firearm during the commission of a felony and misdemeanor domestic violence, documents show.

Officials said Browning is Tackett's former boyfriend and the father of her unborn child.

Tackett told officers she let Browning and Pethel into the home around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. The pair bound the three with duct tape at gunpoint and carried them into a closet. Tackett told police a man later identified as Pethel fired several shots into the closet.

Edwards described the scene as gruesome.

"This was a cold-blooded deal," he added.

After placing Tackett and the Hyes into the closet, Pethel sprayed lighter fluid onto clothes hanging in the small room and lit them, Tackett alleged.

The suspects stole five to seven guns, ammunition, a coin collection, a bag of Valentine candy and other items from the residence, police documents showed. Officers searched a shallow livestock pond by hand for some of those items, as well as the weapon allegedly used in the crime, Edwards said.

Browning telephoned the Tulsa County Sheriff's office and surrendered in the front yard of his parents' Sand Springs house Sunday afternoon. Later, authorities apprehended Pethel outside a west Tulsa bar.

Police allege that Pethel admitted assisting in binding the victims and carrying them to the closet. He said Browning fired shots into the closet and lit the clothing on fire, documents showed.

Browning has no felony criminal history in Tulsa County, records show.

Tulsa County prosecutors charged Pethel with felony grand larceny in April 1997. Two months later, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of obtaining merchandise by false pretenses, a misdemeanor, and received a one-year sentence, records show.

Pethel was arrested in February 1997 on a complaint of aggravated assault in Tulsa County, but was released after prosecutors declined to file charges. Pethel also was charged in Tulsa County with workers compensation fraud in October 2000. That case is pending.