Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023

brother who discovers sister’s body speaks out 

By Tammy Curtis, Publisher

The Spring River area community mourned the loss of a long time local man who was a friend to many on Feb. 6.  A memorial service was held for Brian Shackelford, 51, of Highland. Shackelford, one of three killed by former Sharp County resident Robert Edwin Lewis, 61, who moved to Cherokee County, Okla.  about 15 years ago. 

Jimmie Lamb, brother of murder victim Quinley Lamb, is the person who discovered his sister’s body but has yet to be questioned by police in Oklahoma about his findings or allowed to tell his story. 

Lamb contacted the SRC and gave an exclusive interview regarding the events that led to such a tragic ending that has the community deeply saddened. 

The story told by Lamb, along with police and court records, information from a press conference with both Cherokee County Sheriff Mark Chennault and District Attorney Jack Thorpe confirm the motive for the murders has “not been officially established.”  This is contrary to statements of “a narcotics deal”,  reported by Sheriff Mark Counts to both local news media and to the sheriff in Oklahoma. The Sharp County Sheriff’s Department had no knowledge of the murder until Lamb called after finding his missing sister’s body. 

The motive seems to be apparent based on evidence and first hand accounts from members of the victim’s family … robbery and the possibility of the victims taking Lewis’ mentally disabled third victim to safety from the alleged killer. 

Lewis, confessed to the killings the evening of the discovery of the bodies, in a Mirandized interview with law enforcement in Cherokee County, Okla. He admitted to killing Shackelford, 51,; his long time friend, Quinley Lamb, 43, both of Highland, and Lewis’ current girlfriend, Deanna Tippey, 36, of Stillwell, Okla. (of same address as Lewis)

Lamb’s and the ex-wife of the alleged killer, Christina Orosz, of Sharp County, first discovered Lamb’s body in a shallow grave on Lewis’ property in Eldon Hill, Okla. on Jan. 28, just four days after she was reported missing locally. Lamb described the tragedy as “something straight out of a horror movie, you can’t imagine.”

According to the Probable Cause Affidavit from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department,  hours before the discovery of the bodies, Orosz called her ex-husband  asking about the whereabouts of Lamb.

Lamb arrived at Lewis’ property with Orosz around 10 p.m. the night of the discovery of the bodies after driving from Sharp County in search of his sister. Quinley Lamb was reported missing to Sharp County law enforcement by family on Jan. 24, after not being heard from since Jan. 14, when family could reach her by phone or through social media. This news agency never received a missing person report to post on our social media about Ms. Lamb. 

Court records also indicate a workplace injury accident Quinley Lamb had filed against her former employer settled on Jan. 12. She was reported to have received between $20,000 and $30,000, but her brother said when she left Arkansas she only had about $10,000 remaining. Family friends said Quinley was going back to Oklahoma to Brian. Lamb said it was likely that Lewis would have known about the settlement as they were all close friends, with his sister and Brian living on his 30 acres. 

Lamb said Orosz informed him she would be going to Oklahoma on Sunday. “I said, no we are going right now, because I was going any way but, I didn’t know where to go.” Lamb said he initially thought his sister and Shackelford had just run away.

Orosz knew where her ex-husband lived and took Lamb to the property. Lamb said he had never met nor did he know Robert Lewis. “I was still optimistic when I went out there that they would be alive,” Lamb said. The more of Quinley and Brian’s belongings he discovered, the less he believed the couple were alive. “Everything they owned was there, at that guy’s camper, but Brian’s vehicle.” He explained they discovered the camper in which Brian had been staying on the property had been dismantled and burned.

Once Lamb saw the camper was dismantled, he went to look in Lewis’ camper trailer, also on the property in hope of locating his sister and Shackelford.  

Lamb said at Lewis’ camper he and Orosz found a trash can that had spilled over outside that contained items belonging to the victims, including Shackelford’s billfold and his sister’s identification. Lamb said he picked the items up to take to police as evidence of what he found, placing them in the floorboard of the vehicle. At this time he did not know the items would soon be evidence in a triple murder investigation. He simply planned to use the items of evidence of foul play. Nothing prepared him for what he would soon discover. 

After walking in the woods on the property,  Orosz and Lamb found a shallow grave. He said he was very distraught and found a piece of what he believed was his sister’s hair with part of a “skull bone” attached. He said he put it in his pocket as further proof of what he found, hoping to catch his sister’s killer. 

Lamb described the location where he found his sister as a very shallow grave.  A rake, a shovel and a jug of water were by each of the graves. He described the holes as “little sink holes with leaves and dead logs and stuff like that over them,” He said it was dark out and they were close to one another, and very visible mounds.  

After the gruesome discovery, Lamb said he waited a while before calling family and police because he was distraught and had to gather his wits before mustering the strength and rationality to call family members about his grisly discovery.

According to  Sheriff Chennault, in a press conference held on Jan. 31, Lamb first called Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts about the discovery on his way back to Arkansas to console family. While en-route he also called the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office, at the same time as Counts was also calling them. He was asked by Cherokee County to turn around and he and Orosz later met the detectives at Speedy’s Gas Station, near the crime scene. He and Orosz then led them to the location of the body. At this time they weren’t aware of Shackelford’s body, just the other grave that they thought contained his body.  Detectives said in the affidavit they then “backed out and got a search warrant”. 

They did not return to exhume what they would later discover would be three bodies until the following morning, Sat. Jan. 29. Lamb said Orosz tried to get Lamb to turn himself in to authorities. At one point during the afternoon prior to his arrest, she learned her ex-husband was at the Cherokee Nation Casino and went to talk to him, letting Lamb out in the parking lot so she would appear to be alone. While Lewis came out to speak with her, he attempted to get her to “go for a ride with him” when she informed him she wasn’t alone. He told her to stop asking about the location of Shackelford and Lamb or it “wouldn’t end well.” Lamb said he believed Lewis intended to kill her too as he was aware she knew of the murders at this point. “He spooked,” Lamb said about learning she wasn’t alone.  Lamb said when Orosz was married to him he tried to kill her by placing her under a moving vehicle.

Sheriff Chennault explained due to darkness on Friday night after initially discovering the body, the department did not return to the scene until  Saturday morning, but instead concentrated on locating Lewis for questioning in the case.

Later that evening, Lewis, who Lamb said was known to “have a bad gambling problem,” was located at Cherokee Nation Casino in nearby Tahlequah, Okla. According to the affidavit, some time after his conversation with his ex-wife, Lewis called Eldon Graves a family member and detective with the Tahlequah Police Department and told Graves he killed “two people”. He was taken into custody at the casino and transported to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office for questioning. 

Lewis confessed in a Mirandized interview to killing the three people and told the officers who they were and also drew a map to help locate the bodies. He allegedly killed Lamb and Shackelford on his birthday, Jan. 16 and Tippey, sometime after Jan. 19. Lamb said he believed based on information from Orosz that Tippey was going to turn Lewis in for the murders, According to Sheriff Chennault, the police had been to Lewis; property in the past but also stated he had not been arrested or had any violent tendencies to his knowledge. 

On Saturday morning, Jan. 29, detectives and police officers with agencies in Cherokee County,  searched two burial holes. In the first hole they uncovered a female believed to be Deanna Tippey. In the second hole, the located two bodies, a female, and a male. They were later identified by the Medical Examiner’s office to be that of Lamb and Shackelford.

Lewis said per conversations with Orosz that the two believe this was not the first time Lewis had killed someone. Lamb said while he couldn’t give details, Orosz had reason to believe there may be other victims of her ex-husbands including two homeless girls and **someone who was all a friend of Lewis’ in the past. . Orosz was also given an opportunity to talk with the SRC about the case but did not respond. 

In the press conference Sheriff Chennault said if it hadn’t been for Lamb’s quest to find his sister, the bodies would not have been discovered. The sheriff also stated that Lamb was not being investigated in the case. Lamb finds that odd because he was taken into custody for the articles he had in his possession and was held in jail for nearly 12 hours on charges of  “possession of a controlled dangerous substance” . according to a jailer, the charge could be a result of anything but Lamb feels he was held because of how it looked that he had the identifications and hair and bone fragments of a murder victim, which he says he understood. Lamb said that night after Lewis was arrested, detectives came to the jail to apologize to him. On Saturday, after he had posted a $2,500 professional bond , he was told the judge came in to release him on an his own recognizance and the  charges would be dropped.

According to Lamb he believed his sister and Shackelford planned to move Tippey away from Lewis. He said Tippey also planned to turn Lewis in. Tippey was killed days after Shackelford and Lamb.

Lamb was killed by “blunt force trauma”, Shackelford, “sharp force trauma” and Tippey was strangled in the murders. Sheriff Chennault and the District Attorney Thorpe said Lewis’ truck which was located at a friend’s house, cell phone and other evidence are being gathered and examined and that the case remains an active and ongoing investigation.

Lewis who was an unemployed U.S. Marine veteran who originally moved to Sharp County from California, appeared before Judge Joshua King on Jan. 31 and is being held without bond on three charges of First Degree Murder in the Cherokee County Detention Center. His next court date is March 21, 2022 at 1:30 p.m. 

Concerns were voiced during the press conference about the case falling under the 2020 McGirt Law that Native Americans who commit crimes on the reservation, which includes much of Tulsa, cannot be prosecuted by state or local law enforcement and must instead face justice in tribal or federal courts. The DA explained that neither the victims or alleged perpetrator were members of the Cherokee Nation, so the law would not apply to the case. 

Locally family members mourning their losses have spoken that they want to see Lewis put to death for the crimes. Thorpe said, “It is definitely within the realm of consideration that this murder that occurred here in Cherokee County could possibly warrant the death penalty.” The DA said he would be visiting with family about this possible sentence. He confirmed investigators with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department will be traveling to Arkansas to gain  information and evidence needed to present to the court. 

Services for Quinley Lamb will be held at Wortham Funeral Home in Highland at a later date.