OSBI makes arrest in 2009 homicide

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Updated: 8/08/2013 3:37 pm Published: 8/08/2013 3:35 pm

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation announced an arrest in the death of Joe Neff in 2009.

Neff’s body was found in a strip pit pond in Pocola. He was reported missing several days earlier from the Long Branch Saloon that he owned and operated just south of Poteau.

Police found his hands and legs were bound with wire and zip ties. Duct tape was wrapped around his head and his body was attached by a chain to a cement block to weigh it down in the water. Days later, the medical examiner determined Neff died of a gunshot wound to his neck.
During the autopsy, doctors retrieved a 9 mm pistol bullet with markings consistent with being fired from a Ruger 9 mm pistol.

OSBI agents interviewed many of Neff’s friends, relatives, and employees about the homicide. Many of them said Neff’s ex-wife was demanding money but Neff refused. Neff told these witnesses that if anything were to happen to him his ex-wife and her brother, Raymond Larry Nichols, should be considered suspects.

Investigators checked local pawn shops and found Nichols’ common-law wife purchased a Ruger 9 mm pistol in 2001. Agents interviewed the woman about the purchase. She admitted to buying the gun and giving it to Nichols.

Last month, OSBI agents requested the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Dive Team search the strip pit pond where Neff’s body was found.
Underwater metal detectors led divers to a Ruger 9 mm handgun under layers of silt. The gun was transported to the OSBI Forensic Science Center in Edmond for analysis. The serial number on the gun checked back to the same Ruger 9 mm sold to Nichols’ common-law wife. An OSBI criminalist in the Firearms Unit identified the gun had in fact fired the bullet removed from Neff’s neck during the autopsy.

Agents arrested Raymond Larry Nichols at his home in Cameron on one count of murder in the first degree for the homicide of Joe Neff. Nichols was booked into the LeFlore County Jail on that charge.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Mayor Maynot - 8/8/2013 4:01 PM
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If I did that I don't think I'd stash the gun with the body.
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