Child's Testimony Leads To Arrest In 2017 Shawnee Murder Case

Monday, March 23rd 2020, 2:19 pm
By: Bonnie Campo

A child's testimony led law officers to solving a murder case out of Pottawatomie County.

In 2017, Isaiah Harjo was shot and killed, but it wasn’t until weeks ago when his accused killer was arrested, said Allan Grubb, the Pottawatomie County district attorney.

In light of newly discovered testimony, the U.S. Marshals tracked down the suspect, Christopher Pipestem, and arrested him for murder, robbery and child abuse.

The testimony came from an eyewitness to the murder, a boy who was just 4 years old at the time and the victim's own son.

Investigators said the child was forced to rob his own father before the fatal shooting.

"Why would you put a 4-year-old through that much trauma? Just for what? Money?" Harjo's sister, Sarah Harjo, said.

Police said the robbery happened January 4, 2017 at the Chapel Ridge Apartments in Shawnee.

Isaiah Harjo was found with a gunshot wound in his upper torso.

According to court documents, the victim was able to say "Antonio shot me" before he died. Antonio Sambrano was soon arrested.

Now, years later, new investigators said Sambrano wasn't the one to pull the trigger.

"My investigators, this past year, have been working the case relentlessly. They have found very solid evidence," Grubb said.

The district attorney said Sambrano was at the crime scene, and has since taken a plea deal to accessory to murder for getting rid of the murder weapon.

Sambrano is expected to testify against Pipestem, the man recently arrested by U.S. Marshals.

Investigators said before Pipestem killed Isaiah Harjo, he forced the victim's son to take his "money" from his father's pockets.

"He put the gun to the child and made him rob his own father, allegedly," Grubb said.

The district attorney said the reason the victim likely identified the wrong suspect on his deathbed was because he was scared for his family.

"The father was still alive, which is why the original investigators focused on Sambrano. We believe Pipestem expressed his ability to kill the child after he just shot the father if someone testified against him," Grubb said.

As for the reason why Pipestem wasn't originally considered a suspect at the scene of the crime, there’s an explanation for that, too.

"Nobody realized at the original crime scene, that Christopher Pipestem was holding the child so that he wouldn't talk," Grubb said.

Family said the little boy suffered a great deal of trauma. He doesn’t sleep well at night, and asks frequently about his father.

The boy was feet away from where his father was murdered. All the family is hurting.

"His dad meant a lot to him. He always played with him, took care of him. That was my brother's pride and joy right there," said Sarah Harjo, the victim's sister.

The case is scheduled to be in court at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.