FBI Investigating Alleged Death Threats Made By County Officials Against Oklahoma Newspaper Reporters

The FBI has launched an investigation in McCurtain County following a disturbing recording obtained by News 9. The recording, captured by Gazette reporter Bruce Willingham, revealed county officials discussing plans to beat, kill and bury two newspaper reporters in Idabel, including Willingham's son, Chris.

Sunday, April 16th 2023, 10:19 pm

By: News 9


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The FBI has launched an investigation in McCurtain County following a disturbing recording obtained by News 9. The recording, captured by Gazette reporter Bruce Willingham, revealed county officials discussing plans to beat, kill and bury two newspaper reporters in Idabel, including Willingham's son, Chris.

Related Story (Update): McCurtain Co. Commission Convenes Emergency Meeting; Protestors Gather Outside

"I was completely appalled and frightened, quite frankly," said Willingham upon discovering the recording.

He says he left his recording device inside a McCurtain County commissioners' meeting, where he intended to prove the officials were holding secret meetings.

However, he ended up getting much more than he bargained for.

Related Story: Gov. Stitt Calls For McCurtain County Officials To Resign

The more than three hours of audio recordings include discussions about hiring hitmen to carry out the murders.

"I've known two or three hit men, they're very quiet guys, yeah, who would cut no f*** mercy, yeah, in Louisiana, cause it's all mafia around here," said one of the county officials.

The recordings also include discussions about where the reporters' bodies could be buried. Willingham identified Sheriff Kevin Clardy, commissioners Mark Jennings and Robert Beck, and Alecia Manning with the sheriff's department as some of the people heard in the recording.

"I can see where they might try to spend that as being a joke that part, but then Alecia comes back later on and starts talking about my daughter-in-law and she starts getting worried about who would get the blame. I don't see how you spin that as a joke," Willingham said.

Willingham has turned the full audio over to the FBI and the Oklahoma Attorney General's office.

The investigation is ongoing.

More details coming up tonight at 10 p.m.

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