|| Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
Public Information Director
08/08/13 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OSBI Agents Arrest Cameron Man for 2009 LeFlore County Homicide
May 17, 2009, Joe 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.
When police recovered Neff’s body from the pond, they discovered 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.
During the course of the investigation, 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.
A check of local pawn shops determined 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 alerted on an area near where Neff’s body was found. Divers found 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.
This morning, 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.