Jailed Briggs man to attend daughters' funeral

Monday, December 6th 2004, 5:56 am
By: News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) -- A Briggs man jailed on suspicion of drug possession and outstanding warrants was taken to a funeral Monday for his two daughters, who were killed in a mobile home fire.

Sheriff's deputies escorted Cody McClendon III, who wore civilian clothes, handcuffs and leg irons, to his daughters' funeral at Cherokee Indian Baptist Association's Tabernacle Church, east of Tahlequah.

McClendon, 24, is in jail on suspicion of drug possession after being arrested by the Cherokee Nation Marshal service at the Cherokee Casino early Saturday morning.

McClendon is being held on outstanding warrants in the Cherokee County Jail in lieu of bond, Cherokee County Sheriff Delena Goss said.

Drug possession charges will soon be filed against McClendon, who will likely be arraigned Dec. 14, District Attorney Richard Gray said.

McClendon's arrest came two days after his daughters, Patricia McClendon, 5, and Randi McClendon, 2, along with their uncles George Leach and Gordon Shell, were killed in an early morning fire.

Cody McClendon and Andrea McClendon, 23, the girls' parents, were at the casino when the fire broke out Thursday morning, Goss said.

Their 6-month-old son, Cody McClendon IV, had spent the night with an aunt when the fire started, Goss said. The infant was taken from the McClendons by the state Department of Human Services and placed with grandparents.

Goss said she spoke with a county judge and Gray about taking the girls' father to the funeral. She said Cody McClendon III will immediately return to jail after the service Monday afternoon.

The girl's grandfather, C.L. McClendon, asked reporters not to attend the funeral.

Early reports suggested a methamphetamine lab explosion caused the mobile home fire. But Goss said there was no evidence of a working lab inside or outside the mobile home.

However, glassware, rock salt and other items were found in an ice chest outside the residence, suggesting they had been used in a methamphetamine lab in the past, she said. Goss said foul play was not suspected.

Sharon Wright, the marshal service's director, said McClendon was in possession of methamphetamine when law enforcement officers picked him up.

Cherokee County court records show McClendon has criminal convictions, including assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, larceny of an automobile, knowingly concealing stolen property, running a road block and eluding police. Bench warrants were issued in August and November for failure to pay fines and failure to appear associated with those charges.

At the time of McClendon's arrest, it also was discovered that he had outstanding Texas warrants for assault and battery charges, she said.