Muskogee Police Say Three Suspects Did Not Know Murder Victim

Friday, July 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Police believe a Muskogee woman was killed because of the type of vehicle she drove. Three men are being held for her murder. Police say sometime between 11:00 PM and 12 midnight Tuesday, someone broke into 54-year-old Janet Russell’s home. They robbed her and then shot her. They took her purse and a 1995 Chevy Tahoe.

Police arrested three men in connection to the murder. 20-year-old Corey Smith, 28-year-old Lonnie Murphy, III and 18-year-old Dewayne Johnson, all of Muskogee. Murphy is the only one with a prior record of robbery by force and fear.

Police say Russell's body was discovered because her boss became worried about her. "When she didn't show up for work, her boss tried calling her and went to her residence and located her," said Muskogee Police Officer Bobby Lee.

Russell's boss saw her through the window of her home. Police say the robbers broke in late at night when Russell was alone. The robbers might have known that, because police say this was no random act of violence. "We believe the motive of the crime was robbery and it appears that it was planned," Lee said.

Lee says the suspects did not know Russell personally. He says the men tried to sell the Tahoe in Arkansas. Muldrow police caught them traveling westbound on Interstate 40 on their way back to Muskogee from Arkansas.

Police arrested one of the suspects, two others escaped on foot. After a four- hour manhunt, the two suspects were arrested in Muldrow. Muskogee police are holding the three suspects on complaints of first degree murder and robbery. Police have recovered a gun, but they still aren't sure if it was the one used in the murder.

The three men were arraigned late Thursday afternoon. Johnson and Murphy are being held without bond. Smith is being held as a material witness on a $10,000 bond.