The Cathouse Murders Trial in Oklahoma City

Once again I find myself observing a major trial…


Welcome back.  Downtown Oklahoma City has all the attractions of a large metropolis and more as I have been learning over the past few days. Professional baseball and basketball both played in beautiful arenas, a boat ride down a lazy river lined with restaurants and entertainment venues, botanical gardens and of course the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. There are also a handful of high rises which are home to corporate giants such as Devon Energy.

Tucked in the middle of all this is the Oklahoma County Courthouse where I have been and will be over the next few weeks. The building itself is small compared to the ones around it but as you can imagine it is quite busy with a steady flow of people coming and going. My destination every morning is the second floor where there are two judges holding court. Full of spectators, the room I’m in has twelve rows of seating for six people in each row. There is a heavy police presence with eight cops inside the courtroom and another half dozen outside. Last Friday I heard the opening statements of Assistant District Attorney Meredith Easter and learned that the case I am following actually began on November 9, 2009 when one man and three women were brutally murdered in Oklahoma City. The man was a well-known drug dealer and two of the three women were pregnant. In all, D.A. Easter filed six counts of first degree murder, four for the adults and two for the unborn children.  Even the most seasoned cops found the murders gruesome Easter said, as the victims were hit, stabbed, shot and then their bodies were set on fire. Unfortunately this type of crime may not be all that unusual in the underground world of drug dealing but the national spotlight has been on this particular crime because one of the victims was Brooke Phillips of Moore, OK.

A beautiful twenty-two year old, her life as a stripper and professional prostitute has been reported in detail by the media. According to these stories, Brooke didn’t have any parental support while she was growing up but even as a young girl she was determined to have a better life. Trading on her looks and her ability to connect with people, she started off dancing in men’s clubs and then moved on to the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Carson City, Nevada where prostitution is legal. She became something of a celebrity after appearing on an HBO reality TV show about the ranch and by all accounts was a real money maker for the owners. All that was nine years ago and now all that remains of her is a small plaque on a stage in Carson City where Brooke danced for customers. A sad story from the get go for this young woman. The media have called the crime the ‘cathouse murders” because of her association with the Moonlite Ranch and it is drawing a lot of publicity.

The death penalty is on the table for accused killers Denny Edward Phillips, 38 of Salina (no relation to Brooke) and Russell Lee Hogshooter of Oklahoma City. Phillips is a known war chief in the Indian Brotherhood Gang and is charged with ordering the killings. It’s a trial I’m sure you’re going to hear a lot more about.

As for me, I’m planning to be in Claremore at the opening ceremonies for the 70th Annual Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo. Then it’s on to Tulsa on Friday and Saturday for the R&K Gun Show at the Tulsa Fairgrounds.

Till then, I’ll see ya down the road…



The Fascinating Life of E.W. Marland

Another story of the influence of the oil business in Oklahoma which is still relevant today….

Welcome back. If you are in the oil business you’ve heard the name before because at one point in time he controlled close to 10 percent of the world’s oil supply. If you are in politics you may know him as a governor of Oklahoma in the 1930s. In Ponca City he built parks and statues and paved the streets while also supporting most every charity and church in town. Personal friends with Will Rogers, Ernest Whitworth Marland was a true wildcatter of the early 1900s era who made and lost millions and then through sheer determination made it back again only to lose it all again. He left Ponca City with a story made for the big screen and folks I just saw the premiere on Thursday night at the Circle Cinema in Tulsa. The stars of the film were all there along with the directors and producers. The women were dressed in their best attire and the men were decked in tuxes so the event had all the glitter of a Hollywood opening.

If you don’t know, the Circle Cinema itself has a rich history beginning with its construction in 1928 at a cost of $62,000 in Tulsa’s historic Whittier Square Shopping Center on Lewis Street. In its heyday the theater was popular with teens, showing films like the Green Hornet. Today the building is on the National Register of Historic Places and it is Tulsa’s only remaining historic movie theater. Circle Cinema has become a not-for-profit art house with screening that include current documentaries, premieres of locally produced and directed films and student made films. The Marland film was a perfect fit for this venue.

The film tells how E.W. Marland lived, gave back to the community and built two impressive homes in the depression, providing hundreds in the Ponca City area with good paying jobs. Marland’s Grand Home is right in town. Construction started in 1914 and finished two years later and the house boasted several “firsts” for the state including a central vacuum cleaning system, an automatic dishwasher and Oklahoma’s first indoor swimming pool. The film does a great job showcasing the house which I’ve recently toured and it’s a must see.  Today the house also contains an extensive Native American art collection, an archaeological exhibit created by the Daughters of the American Revolution and a large collection of artifacts from the 101Ranch.

The Marland Mansion outside of town is also thoroughly depicted in this film. The 43,561 square foot villa was built in the Italian Renaissance style and features extensive ornamentation both inside and out, including exterior gargoyles and carving of jackals and owls. One can only imagine the excitement in Ponca City during the 1930s when this elaborate home was under construction.

Throughout the film I noticed several scenes that were shot in Bartlesville, including shots of the Nellie Johnstone well. As I left I felt lucky to have the opportunity to see this very interesting film premiere which was sold out. I would gladly pay to see it again but you folks won’t have to because “High Stakes: The Life and Times of E.W. Marland” will be shown soon on OETA. If you can’t wait call the Mansion at 866-763-8092 to purchase your own copy. Running time is 57 minutes and they are twenty bucks each and worth every cent. I’ll leave you with one last tip: it is well worth it to take a couple of days to visit Ponca City and tour both the Marland Grand Home and the Marland Mansion. I’ve been there several times over the last year and I know there are quite a few affordable motels in the area.

As for me, my next coming attraction will be two days at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds this weekend where one of the largest gun shows of the year will be going on.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…….


National Police Week-Honoring the Heroes Who Protect Us All

Welcome back. Sonny Smith, Johnson County, Arkansas Sheriff’s office, Sean Renfro, Jefferson County, Colorado Sheriff’s office, Kerrie Orozco Omaha, Nebraska Police Department, Joseph Abdella, Detroit, Michigan Police Department. What do these men and women, along with one hundred and thirty-seven other law enforcement officers have in common with Dee S. Nicholas from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol? If you guessed that they all died in the line of duty you would have guessed right but this isn’t over a period of years, friend these are the officers who died in the year 2015 alone and I for one find this number quite staggering.

If you haven’t heard its National Police Week and it was  President John F. Kennedy who signed the proclamations for May 15h to be set aside as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week following that date to be Police Week.

Washington, D.C. will be packed as events are planned all week for the thousands of men and women in law enforcement who will be gathering there. Through the official police week website I also found there are over nineteen guard teams spread around the country and six pipe and drum teams equally spread across the U.S. who will be coming to Washington to pay tribute to the fallen. After some more research I realized that I am guilty of forgetting to recognize these honorable individuals and I need to thank those who protect us. Many of these people give their lives so this week join me in thanking a cop for their service.

Now here’s a quick wrap-up of Elder Care’s The Good, The Bad and The Barbeque. The party went without a hitch, good music, food, friends, fine weather and fantastic scenery.  Well if you missed it, the Elder Care committee is already planning something really special for 2017 so mark Mother’s Day weekend on your calendar for next year at the Cross Bell Ranch.

I also want to thank all the folks at Mid America Feeds in Talala, OK for their hospitality Saturday morning during what has to be one of the biggest customer appreciation days around. While I was there it came to me that these farmers and ranchers, in our area and around the country, are providing our groceries and we need to support them. One way is to shop at the local farmers’ markets. The Bartlesville Farmers Market opened last weekend in the park next to the Bartlesville Chamber of Commerce Headquarters in the historic Santa Fe Depot. If you haven’t been to the market before they always have a wide selection of locally grown produce, as well as baked goods, honey and handmade items. With live music and giveaways thrown in this is a tasty and entertaining way to spend Saturday mornings.

On another subject, as you readers know Reserve Deputy Sheriff Robert Bates was denied bond last week. I was there and talked to several family members on both sides, putting together one last piece which I plan to complete after Bates’ sentencing on May 31st.

In the meantime I am scheduling several book signings with OU legend Joe Washington in Oklahoma City. Those dates are coming up soon and I’ll keep you readers in the loop.

Till then I’ll see ya down the road…..



The Good The Bad & The Barbeque at the Mullendore Cross Bell Ranch

It looks like the best weather in years so come out and party at the historic Cross Bell Ranch! There’s still time to get tickets at (918) 336-8500 or

Welcome back. The Tulsa, Oklahoma County Courthouse buts up to the Tulsa Convention Center, the newly renovated Mayo Hotel is close by and so is the old Tulsa YMCA building. The YMCA is no longer in the building which is undergoing a complete renovation and as you can imagine it has a rich history which I hope to write about at a future date. All of these buildings are in downtown Tulsa which was my location last week on the fifth floor of the courthouse where Tulsa County’s Sheriff’s Office Reserve Deputy Robert Bates was on trial for second degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Eric Harris.

Court usually started around 9:00 AM and reporters for all the major networks arrived about an hour early hoping that their film crews would get a shot of Bates and his family or Harris’ family as they got off the elevator on their way into the courtroom. As you can imagine there were lots of cops and I had to pass through several metal detectors. Once inside I found that the courtroom was quite small. The spectator seating consisted of three rows of church pew type seats and the first row was reserved for the Bates and Harris families. That left two rows with fourteen seats each for reporters, friends and spectators. At the far end of one row sat Evelyn Petrosik, a professional artist who was hired by the TV networks to paint pictures of the courtroom proceedings as cameras of any type, including cell phones, were not allowed. Reporters filled over half of the other available seats. Of the remaining seats, maybe four or five were taken by general spectators and the rest were occupied by an assorted group of lawyers and paralegals.

After asking around I found these folks were watching the trial because of the defense that Harris had actually died of a heart attack.  I also discovered that defense attorney Clark Brewster was a drawing card for spectators. Brewster is a frequent face on the TV news and he also plays a role in my newly released book, Footprints in the Dew which according to The Oklahoman became the #1bestselling non-fiction book in Oklahoman a couple of weeks ago.

By now you know that Bates was found guilty of manslaughter but it’s not over. Brewster has said that he is looking into appeals and the Harris family is also suing. Bates will learn his fate at the sentencing hearing on May 31st and I plan on being there.

On the local front, it’s time to get out your cowboy boots and your best western duds to head out to the Mullendore Cross Bell Ranch for the 18th annual The Good, The Bad and The Barbeque on Saturday night. As you drive past hundreds of horses and cattle on the three mile road leading into the ranch you will experience the beauty of one of Oklahoma’s foremost ranches which dates back to statehood. The event benefits Elder Care and the services they provide for seniors and caregivers in our community. For tickets give them a call at (918) 336-8500 or visit

As for me I will start off Saturday at a big gathering in Talala where Mid America Feeds is hosting their annual customer appreciation day in the morning. Last year there were close to a thousand people there. In the afternoon I will be at Dewey’s new store “The Market” during the Stray Cats Car Show. If you haven’t been to Dewey lately let me tell you every building on the main street is filled with unique shops and with the car show in town it would be a great time to check things out.

Credence Clearwater Revisited

A great evening at the 7 Clans Casino…………………….

Welcome back.  Music, I often travel many miles to listen to good music and I found out last night Friday night that Newkirk, OK is quickly becoming a showcase for many of the best bands in the country.. Located 12 miles east of I-35 on highway 77 and about 5 miles south of the Kansas border, Newkirk is the county seat of Kay County. The town was established during the Cherokee Strip land run in 1893 and there’s lots of Native American history here. There is still a big population of Cherokees living in these parts and they maintain many traditional customs. Never in this part of the state before, this is where I was headed for a big concert at the 7 Clans Casino.

The 7 Clans are the seven traditional family units of the Cherokee tribe and after doing some research I learned that five of these seven clans own casinos in Oklahoma, two in Red Rock, one in Chilocco, one in Perry and this one in Newkirk. It is a beautiful place with all the glitter of Las Vegas but you don’t have to travel, its right here in Oklahoma.

The band I came to listen to Friday was called Credence Clearwater Revival and they became famous on a wet Saturday night back in 1969 playing at an outdoor music festival called Woodstock. Two of the founding members, Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and in 1995 they formed a new band changing the name of the group from Credence Clearwater Revival to Credence Clearwater Revisited. They have been playing to sold out crowds ever since. I had seen these guys a few years back and if sixties rock & roll is your thing, this is your band “for sure man.” To wrap up the trip: a concert with a great hall to have it in, throw in some really good grub, a friendly staff, a nice hotel to stay in and I’d say this town of Newkirk with a population of 2,243 is an overachiever and definitely worth a visit if only to catch a good show.

And speaking of a good show here are two you might want to check out this weekend.

On Friday it’s a rescheduled visit to Bartlesville for OU superstar and Super Bowl Champion Joe Washington, Joe was originally supposed to be in Bartlesville a month ago but a medical problem forced him to change his visit to this Friday. He will be at Arvest’s Eastside Branch from 9-11:30. Then he will be at Jude’s Coffee House (next to Food Pyramid) from 1:30-3PM. On his way back to Oklahoma City Joe has also agreed to stop by for a visit to Vera around 3:30 or so. If you want to meet a darned nice guy who’s as humble as they come, that’s Joe. I’ll be with him all day and we’ll both have our new books to sign.

That’s Friday for me. Then Saturday and Sunday I’ll be at another gun show and this time it’s in Tulsa at the Metcalf Gun & Knife Show. Held at the Tulsa Fairgrounds, the Metcalf Show has been coming to town for years and although it is not the giant Wannamaker show it is still big.

From there I’m headed back to Oklahoma City Sunday night for a couple of days before I start what will probably be a multi week story about a local case that has gone viral. I will be at the Tulsa Court House where the Robert Bates trial is drawing worldwide attention to Oklahoma with what I hope will be some behind the scenes details.

Stay tuned and till next week, I’ll see ya down the road…..