A metro family's worst fear came true. The family of homicide victim Jacalyn Russell, 31, suspected her to be buried in the backyard of a northwest Oklahoma City home.
Authorities released her identity on Thursday.
Russell’s family said she went missing in late May. Before the family knew it was her, they visited the neighborhood where the accused murderer lived in hopes someone had seen her alive.
“Her mom came by with a photo,” said Olena Metcalf, neighbor. “Asked when was the last, you know if I recognized her and if I did when was the last time I had seen her.”
Metcalf lives only doors down from where investigators found the woman’s body.
“I did recognize her,” said Metcalf. “It’s been at least a week or so back.”
Russell's family did not want to be interviewed on camera but said they last heard from their loved one on May 28. They said she was with 36-year-old Jimmy Vongphakdy, the accused murderer.
The family said Russell was a mother and well-educated but had become involved in drugs. They believe that was the connection she had with Vongphakdy.
“I did believe there was drug trafficking because of the traffic,” said Metcalf. “Along with the drug trafficking, I thought there might be some prostitution.”
Police were tipped off last week that a body was seen inside Vongphadky's home and then buried in the backyard. Investigators found the decomposed body in a fresh, shallow grave covered with tires.
Vongphadky told investigators he did not know there was a body and claimed he had been digging in the backyard to work on sewer lines.
Neighbors never suspected the accused man to be capable of such a heinous crime.
“How do you walk around all day long knowing you’ve done this,” said Metcalf. “And that person is right there where you live.”
Vongphadky was arrested for first degree murder and is being held in the Oklahoma County Jail without bond.