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Man’s sex offender past considered in mysterious Pottawatomie Co. murder

POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. - Deputies are working to find a suspect and motive after a 60-year-old man was found shot dead in front of his home in a remote area of Pottawatomie County.

Deputies were called to the home on the 26000 block of White Oak Road near Tecumseh around 5 p.m. Sunday.

The homeowner came home to find the man who had been staying in a mobile trailer on the property dead, face down in front of his trailer. He's identified as 60-year-old Harry Venosdel Jr. They initially thought he might have died from natural causes.

"There was nothing that looked suspicious at that point," said the Pottawatomie County Undersheriff, J.T. Palmer.

But when the medical examiner arrived and turned his body over, they discovered he had been shot in the center of his chest. After they removed the bulky jacket he was wearing, the M.E. also discovered he'd been shot in the arm. In fact, deputies discovered there were at least four gunshots made in the area altogether.

"He was shot twice, one of the dogs that was at the property, which there were approximately ten to twelve dogs there, one of the dogs had been shot, and then we found another bullet had actually hit the back of the main house," Palmer said.

Based on where the bullet hole and the dog was found, deputies said Venosdel was likely shot on another part of the property, and was trying to get back to his trailer when he collapsed and succumbed to the gunshots.

"We think he had walked around the house to see why the dogs were barking," Palmer said, "or if somebody was shooting, he went around the corner to investigate."

Nothing was missing from either the trailer or the main house. Palmer said investigators don't believe the shooter went farther onto the property from where the shots were fired.

Now they're trying to figure out if he was in the wrong place at the wrong place at the wrong time, or if he was targeted.

"It’s a real remote area," Palmer said. "There’s very few houses out there, pretty hard to get to, so we don’t think it’s somebody who just drove up and found this spot by accident."

Deputies don't know a lot about him, but they do know he was a registered sex offender. According to the Department of Corrections sex offender registry, in 2007, Venosdel was convicted of lewd or indecent proposals/acts to a child in Alva, a city in Woods County in northwest Oklahoma near the Kansas border. Deputies said he was registered in Pottawatomie County for about two years.

"There was some talk that there were some people in that area that were not happy that he was in that area because of him being a sex offender," Palmer said, "so that`s one avenue that we`re going to have to take."

But the undersheriff just can't say yet why Venosdel was killed, or if whether his past had anything to do with it.

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