One man charged in connection with Wagoner County cold case murder

WAGONER COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – A family in Wagoner County may soon have a bit of closure more than 24 years after the horrific murder of a loved one.

On April 7, 1995, officials discovered the body of 62-year-old Donald Hawley on the bank of the Verdigris River, north of Muskogee.

Investigators quickly realized that Hawley had been murdered. They say he had been beaten and his hands were bound behind his back.

Although detectives worked to solve the case, they soon ran out of leads and the case went cold.

Twenty-three years after the murder, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Cold Case Unit took up the case and began using new technology to try to generate new clues.

Now, officials say they are one step closer to closing the case.

“For Mr. Hawley’s family, this day has been a long time coming,” said District Attorney Thorp. “For nearly a quarter of a century, they have been waiting for answers as to who killed Donald. I appreciate the hard work and dedication of OSBI Director Adams and the OSBI Cold Case Unit for their efforts, which has led to these charges being filed and a path to justice for the Hawley family.”

Authorities say 58-year-old Kenneth Brown is facing a murder charge in connection with Hawley’s death.

“This was a brutal and senseless murder,” said Sheriff Chris Elliott. “This shows that there is no timetable in Wagoner County for any case to be solved. With the advances in technology, DNA identification, increased law enforcement resources, and interagency cooperation, these types of crimes are more likely to be solved. I would like to personally thank Director Adams and members of the OSBI for their efforts to bring closure to this case. Only now the Hawley family can start the process to obtain the justice they deserve for the horrible endeavor that they have had to endure.”

Brown is currently serving a life sentence for the May 10, 1995 murder of 41-year-old Elizabeth Alloway.

Kenneth Brown

Although one person has been charged in the murder, investigators warn that they believe another suspect is still on the loose.

On Tuesday, authorities said they believe the motive behind the murder was robbery, and that at least one accomplice is still on the run.

If you have any information about the death of Donald Hawley, please contact the District 27 DA’s hotline at (918) 772-7568 or the OSBI at (800) 522-8017 or tips@osbi.ok.gov.

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