FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2018 – District Attorney Jack Thorp announces charges in a cold case double homicide that rocked a Cherokee County community in 2007. Thorp turned to the attorney general’s multicounty grand jury for the final piece of the puzzle in the murders of Jack and Elaine Denney, whose bodies were discovered in their home on Christmas Day more than 10 years ago.
The multicounty grand jury concluded its investigation into the Denney murders with two first-degree murder indictments of Justin Walker, 32 of Tahlequah. Thorp filed the grand jury’s indictments in the Cherokee County courthouse Friday morning.
“The Denney family and this community waited patiently for justice in this case,” said Thorp upon accepting the jury’s recommendations from Oklahoma City. “I am grateful for the diligent work of Oklahoma’s multicounty grand jury, Attorney General Mike Hunter and Assistant Attorney General Carter Jennings, for helping to secure this indictment.”
Thorp said a tip to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation helped to strengthen the case; and the grand jury’s subpoena power was the key to compelling a witness to provide essential corroboration.
“Attorney General Hunter has been a staunch supporter of the justice the residents of District 27 demand and deserve,” Thorp said. “I know Cherokee County residents join me in thanking him for the personal interest he took, ensuring I had the necessary tools to obtain this indictment.”
When family members arrived at the home on Iron Post road near Locust Grove for Christmas celebrations in 2007, they made a grisly discovery that changed their lives forever – Jack Denney, 65, and his wife Elaine, 66, dead from gunshot wounds to their heads and torsos.
One of the first investigators on the scene was Nate King, now the chief of the Tahlequah Police Department. King never gave up on the quest for justice. The Cherokee County investigators that came after King continued to search for evidence in the case that haunted them for more than 10 years. They were eventually joined by agents from the OSBI, and the attorney general’s multicounty grand jury rounded out the case after Thorp requested investigative assistance.
“This was a true team effort,” Thorp said. “I am so proud to be part of this team: Sheriff Norman Fisher and Undersheriff Jason Chennault; Vicky Lyons, Brad Green, and Dale Fine of OSBI, and Chief King. They all worked diligently to solve this case.”
Walker, currently in Harp Correctional Center on a host of unrelated felonies, faces two counts of first-degree murder under two possible theories – either he went to the Denny’s home on December 23 and killed them while committing a Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon; and/or he went to the Denney’s house with the intention to kill them.
Thorp cautions that an indictment does not mean the case is finished. He says Walker may have had an accomplice.
“We still need the help of the public,” Thorp said. “There may be someone out there who helped kill two beloved members of your community. Their family deserves to know the whole story.”
If you have any information about these murders, please call the OSBI tip line at 1-800-522-8017, Cherokee County Sheriffs Office 1-918-456-2583, or the District 27 District Attorney Cold Case Hotline 918-772-7568.
District 27 includes Adair, Cherokee, Sequoyah, and Wagoner Counties.
We are constantly trying to solve the crimes of the past. Murder in the first degree does not have a statute of limitations. If you have information about a cold case homicide, please call our hotline 918-772-7568.