Stillwater, Ok May 18, 2023 (The Oklahoma Post) –
An anonymous package of public information related to the deaths of multiple Payne County residents, once hidden from the public has now been made available to The Oklahoma Post. The information has long been sought after by journalists and the public, but all requests led to runarounds and denials of the public information. The excuse from Pawnee County and Payne County Clerks was that there was no information and then, finally, we were told that there was information available, but the information was being digitized. For six months, we patiently waited for the information to be provided, only to find several original copies were set to be destroyed in the coming days. Luckily, the documents were intercepted before destruction by new Pawnee County staff and made public.
The now public information gives insights into who may have murdered two Stillwater men in 2002 and gives some insight into the behavior of both Norm McNickle and Dan McNickle leading up to the murders. After looking through the newly acquired information, it appears former Stillwater Police Chief, Norman McNickle, quietly sat back and watched the deaths of two young men play out to the benefit of his son Dan McNickle. The lack of action and obstruction of justice may have been a guard to prevent any conspiracy and murder charges against Dan McNickle.
As we now know, neither Payne County nor neighboring Pawnee County is competent at securing evidence for investigators, so we may never know the truth without federal intervention in the matter. OSBI agents, in their daily activities, were working very close with Norm McNickle and there was no publicly available evidence that OSBI took any action to investigate the murders of Gregory Montgomery and Justin Newport, nor the missing guns of Sherriff Woodrell in an oddly timed murder of the north Oklahoma law enforcement officer.
Two of the most gruesome deaths Payne County has ever known happened in 2002.
In the months leading up to his death in 2002, Justin and Bob Newport begged law enforcement and the courts for protection from Daniel McNickle, Aaron Newport, and Kit Heisler.
Regional narcotics informant Justin Newport was found dead inside his vehicle on April 15th, 2002 from a shotgun wound. The medical examiner hastily ruled Justin’s death to be a suicide, with little to no effort put into investigating his death. Newport was found inside his vehicle near his family’s Pawnee ranch, on a gravel road, just as described in the 1999 PO application by Newport. Years later, in 2006, Justin’s father, Bob Newport, was still fighting for justice for his son with little public support. Bob Newport went about collecting signatures to convene a grand jury investigation to no avail. Mr. Newport believed his son was murdered because of his role as a drug informant working for the Sheriff’s Department (then Sheriff Dwight Woodrell), the district attorney’s office, the OSBI, and other local drug task force agencies in which Norm McNickle was closely involved.
In 2002, a body was discovered behind a motel in San Antonio, Texas. It was determined the individual had been tortured, tied up and the body burned. It wasn’t until eight (8) years later that the body was positively identified as that of former Stillwater resident Gregory Montgomery, who had graduated from Stillwater High School in the early 90’s. When the identity of the murder victim was released, then Police Chief Norman McNickle was asked to comment. “Our information was he lived in Shawnee before he lived in Texas. That’s about all I know. San Antonio hasn’t called us,” Police Chief Norman McNickle said in a 2010 interview with Stillwater Newspress beat writer Anita Pere. Chief McNickle claimed to Stillwater Newspress that he didn’t even know the murder victim; however, we clearly know this is not true due to the information included in the protective order filed by the other murder victim (the death has been ruled a suicide but many people, including the family, believe it was murder), Justin Newport, in which he claimed McNickle had made a direct threat with a “stolen” gun owned by Norm McNickle. In the same article, future Police Chief Capt. Ryan McCaghren said police records show there was a man by that name living in rural Payne County in the early 1990s, with no mention of Norman McNickle and his son Dan McNickle’s close association with regional drug task forces. No additional inquiry was made by journalists or media at the time. We have “heard” that the disgraced former editor of the CNHI-owned Stillwater News Press (Michelle Charles), who ignored the public’s requests to cover the corruption stories, was recently hired by Norm McNickle as the new Head of Communications for the City of Stillwater. How this information was never reported by Charles is beyond comprehension.
In 1999, Justin Newport had been in extreme fear for his life, so much so that he filed at least 3 separate applications for protective orders in Pawnee County. One of those was against former Stillwater Chief of Police, Norman McNickle’s son, Daniel McNickle. Justin described disturbing threats made by Daniel to him in phone calls as well as harassment/stalking by Daniel McNickle. Justin wrote that buckets of blood had been poured on the driveway of his residence, there had been threats that Justin Newport would be dragged down a “gravel road”, as well as McNickle directly threatened to kill Justin. In the application Justin wrote that the threats were the result of a search warrant having been served on an alleged drug house, Aaron Newport’s cabin, run by Dan McNickle, Aaron Newport, and Kit Heisler. It is believed there were guns belonging to Norm McNickle in the drug houses. Interestingly enough, the application lists the residence of Dan McNickle as being Norm McNickle’s home for service of the protective order. The application also indicates that Dan McNickle left the Aaron Newport residence just hours before the search warrant was executed. This information leads the public to question then Chief McNickle’s involvement. It’s not a reach to realistically speculate that Chief McNickle was well aware of the drugs and violence his son Daniel was involved in and he had tipped off his son of the impending drug raid. According to Newport’s application for the protective order against Daniel McNickle, a gun was seized during the raid which was found to be registered to Daniel McNickle’s FATHER, CHIEF NORMAN MCNICKLE. (An interesting aside: Fast forward to May, 17th, 2023 the Stillwater Police Department announced that years of evidence had been lost and supposedly unable to be recovered). An ex parte emergency protective order was issued as a result of Newport’s application in June of 1999. The service documents show Daniel McNickle was served with the emergency Protective Order while at the Payne County Sheriff’s Department, not at the residence of Chief McNickle and Dan McNickle. Newport was granted a final Order for Protection against McNickle in July of 1999 and the court ordered McNickle to pay court costs.
Daniel McNickle failed to pay the court fees as ordered and, as a result, a warrant was issued for his arrest of in September of 2002. The warrant remained outstanding until his arrest on February 20, 2004, almost 1.5 years after the court issued the warrant.
In 2007, McNickle was arrested for a first-degree burglary charge and was bonded out of jail by Chief McNickle. Norm McNickle gave a statement to local CBS affiliate News 9, stating that he and his wife were “disappointed in their son’s actions.”
At the same time as the protection order application against Daniel McNickle, Justin Newport also filed an application for a protective order against a 2nd individual, Kit Heisler. Based on the information provided in Newport’s application, an ex parte emergency protective order was granted for Justin Newport against Kit Heisler on June 24th, 1999 with additional ones being granted in the months following. In the application for the ex parte emergency protective order, Justin describes the threats to his life. According to service documents filed in the Kit Heisler case, it appears Sherrif Dwight Woodrell was unable to ever serve Heisler with the orders.
All three applications were originally applied for on Justin’s own accord; however, at some point, the connected Stillwater law firm Thomas, Osborn and Sexton began representing Newport in the matter. Scotty Thomas, of Thomas Osborn and Sexton is the brother of Payne County Judge Katherine Thomas. A court date was set and the protection orders were heard before the court for Newport against Kit Heisler, Daniel McNickle, and Aaron Newport. The file numbers for the cases are 99-68, 99-69, and 99-70. The PO applications can be read in the PDFs in this article.
Aaron is a blood relative of Justin Newport, brothers. In the application for the protective order, Aaron Newport is alleged to have made threats to Justin by telephone, describing that Justin should never have returned to Oklahoma due to the drug raid on Aaron Newport’s cabin and that Justin would be “drug down a gravel road”. The order was allowed to be vacated in November of 2000 at the request of Justin Newport. The reasons given were that Aaron and Justin had both “taken counseling” and “worked out their differences”. All three applications for protection orders filed by Newport reference the search warrant/drug raid that had occurred.
Justin very clearly articulated the threats he was receiving. He wrote down the cold-blooded threats in the court filings for the three protective orders that were granted to him. He noted that these individuals were threatening to drag him out onto a country road and kill him. He noted that Daniel Mcnickle carried his father’s shotgun in his vehicle. Daniel McNickle‘s father just happened to be the Stillwater police chief at the time and would later become the Stillwater City Manager. The recently acquired open records released by the Pawnee county court clerk show that Stillwater police chief, Norman McNickle, received notification of Justin Newport’s protective order describing his fears. Then, only a couple of years later Justin Newport was found on a country road northeast of Stillwater. He had been killed by a shotgun. Justin’s father Bob Newport father begged for an investigation. His father worked tirelessly for years for a multi-county grand jury to investigate the situation. These investigations were denied.
Justin Newport’s attorneys withdrew their representation in August of 1999 apparently at the request of Justin Newport. Then, just months after Justin Newport was found out on that country road, Stillwater native Gregory Montgomery endured the most horrific death. He was suffocated and burned to death and then dumped in a trash bag in San Antonio. Gregory‘s body was so badly burned that he was not identified for eight years. When his body was identified, Stillwater police chief Norman McNickle tried to deny that Gregory was from Stillwater, yet Greg had received a public intoxication citation in 1995 in Stillwater and had been in direct contact with law enforcement since that time. Mr. Montgomery was well-known and loved in the Stillwater community.
It should be noted that after Norman McNickle was promoted to Director of Stillwater Safety Services, then eventually to Stillwater City Manager, he promoted Officer Ryan McCaghren to be Stillwater’s next Chief of Police. Ryan McCaghren was asked to come to testify on these matters this year but, he allegedly committed suicide before he could testify on several corruption complaints. We had attempted to reach out to the former police chief in hopes of an explanation for the corruption shortly before his untimely death.
Another potential witness surrounding the murders of Montgomery and Newport is Sherriff Dwight Woodrell of Pawnee County. You will see in the orders for protection, Sherriff Woodrell was closely associated with Newport, and his department was tasked with service of the Court Orders for protection on McNickle, Heist, and A. Newport. Unfortunately, Woodrell was murdered on October 13th, 2001. Woodrell was killed execution-style, outside an oil and gas location while investigating a suspicious activity call. When other units arrived they found Woodrell critically injured, having been shot multiple times, but he was still conscious and able to provide descriptions of the suspects. James Taylor and Justin Walker were eventually convicted of the murders of Sherrif Woodrell in an Oklahoma court.
One of the individuals convicted of the murder of Woodrell was a leader within the Aryan Nation Gang and had been accused of running a methamphetamine ring from inside of the State Prison in McAlester Oklahoma. Criminal charges were filed.
Men like Norm rarely are able to pull off decades of corruption without the help of close confidants. After years of complaints regarding the Stillwater Chief of Police, just like the requests for further investigation into the “suicide” of Justin Newport, the complaints always fell on deaf ears with the OSBI and local law enforcement. We believe there was a concerted effort by Stillwater and State of Oklahoma public officials to prevent the investigations regarding McNickle and hide the evidence of Dan McNickle’s role in drug trafficking and potential murder. It’s ironic that the two OSBI agents who were requested to investigate the Payne County corruption were in the same building as the suspect, never investigated the suspect nor his father, and we know the agents went on frequent “camping” trips with Norm McNickle. Both OSBI agents have now “retired”.
The families that were targets and victims of the corruption are left without closure and soon will have to enter the new public facilities recently named after Norm McNickle. Former chief of police and City Manager Norman McNickle was recently honored by citizens of Payne County Oklahoma under the guise that Norm’s public service was on the up and up. The families of these two young men and the countless other victims of these criminals deserve justice. Stillwater as a community deserves much more. The families of the victims deserve Justice.
Open records show that Stillwater Mayor, Will Joyce, has had access to much of this information over the last several years. Joyce has chosen to not request outside investigations into any of the matters related to Norm McNickle, instead, there have been extensive resources applied to discrediting and harming the citizens that have pushed for open corruption investigations. In spite of the Stillwater Mayor’s lack of action, Homeland Security and the San Antonio Police Department continue to look into these matters. Police are offering a reward for information about Montgomery’s death, the San Antonio newspaper reported, and anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at (210) 224-STOP.
Some final thoughts to leave with readers:
1. Why did area law enforcement not take any action to protect Justin Newport, an individual who had been working as an informant for multiple agencies, to the great benefit of those agencies?
2. Why did former Stillwater Police Chief, Norman McNickle, give false information to the press that murder victim Gregory Montgomery was not from Stillwater?
3. Why would former Stillwater Police Chief, Norman McNickle, not offer the full support of the Stillwater Police Department and other agencies he was connected with to protect these young men before their tragic deaths in 2002? Wasn’t he just honored by a storm of social media karens, government workers, and decades of other government law enforcement members (A UNION).
4. Why would former Stillwater Police Chief, Norman McNickle, not offer the full support of the Stillwater Police Department in collaboration with other agencies to assist in investigating the deaths of these two local young men? Again…Colorado camping trips.
(Writing by Robbie Robertson; Editing by Robbie Robertson)
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