Narconon deaths investigation expands

Muskogee Phoenix, Oklahoma/August 7, 2012

McAlester -- The district attorney's office has confirmed that an investigation into four deaths at Narconon Arrowhead now involves the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health while a sheriff's inquiry has expanded with a request for more records.

"The Inspector General is looking into the consumer aspect of compliance with the Department of Mental Health," said District 18 Assistant District Attorney Richard Hull said Monday.

Narconon Arrowhead is a nonprofit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Canadian with affiliation with the Church of Scientology that has been under investigation since the July 19 death of Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, of Owasso.

The investigation has expanded to include three other deaths: Hillary Holten, 21, who was found dead at Narconon Arrowhead in April; Gabriel Graves, 32, who died at the facility in October, and Kaysie Dianne Werninck, 28, who died in 2009, according to Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns.

Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000149 EndHTML:0000001974 StartFragment:0000000199 EndFragment:0000001940 StartSelection:0000000199 EndSelection:0000001940 A death scene investigation report of Murphy's death from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation was handed over recently to Kerns and to the District 18 District Attorney's office.

Assistant DA Richard Hull confirmed Monday morning that the state department of mental health was at Narconon Arrowhead on Thursday.

Hull said the mental health agency is looking into the facility's licensing provisions and other issues.

"They sent two investigative units Thursday and Friday to look at licensing provisions and the procedures that (Narconon Arrowhead) has in place," Hull said.

Kerns said his deputies escorted the mental health investigators to Narconon Arrowhead for their investigation.

On Friday, the sheriff said his agency has expanded its investigation. He said deputies visited Narconon Arrowhead on Friday to request records including surveillance video tape and all records associated with the recent deaths.

"We requested everything including video and documentation," he said.

He said Narconon was compliant.

"They gave us everything we asked for," Kerns said.

Meanwhile, Assistant DA Hull said he spoke with Stacy Murphy's father soon after her death.

"Its a difficult case," Hull said. "I spent about an hour on the phone with him. As a father, he had lots of questions."

Hull said the district attorney's office is waiting on the autopsy and toxicological reports before making a decision on where the investigation will lead.

"It will take about four to six weeks," he said.

Jeanne LeFlore writes for the McAlester News-Capital.

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