Indictment issued for 1986 Wagoner County murder most thought was solved

Indictment issued for 1986 Wagoner County murder most thought was solved; Michael Lee Smith (Courtesy of Wagoner County District Attorney)

District Attorney Jack Thorp announced an indictment for a first-degree Wagoner County murder in 1986 that most people believed was solved.

A multi-county grand jury returned a murder indictment for 60-year-old Michael Lee Smith, who they say ordered Raymond Thomas Hobbs to murder Gene McBride and bury his body in a barn near Smith's home. Hobbs was charged with first-degree murder and convicted of second-degree murder, serving a 40-year sentence for the crime.

"This case took extensive review of evidence and witness testimony from the original investigation in 1986," said Thorp. "Investigators have always had a hunch Smith was the instigator, but Vicky Lyons did an excellent job of finding the witnesses and evidence to tie it all together."

McBride was reported missing in October of 1986; his body was unearthed four years later.

The grand jury determined that not only did Smith order the murder, he also dug McBride's grave himself.

"It's really frustrating when it's an open secret that someone ordered the death of someone else," Thorp said, "But every time you get close to justice, it slides out of reach."

Thorp added that Smith's indictment is just the beginning.

"We have too many families that are waiting for justice in the deaths of their loved ones," he said. "With Vicky's help, we're making progress on several cold cases, and with Attorney General Hunter providing the forum to present our evidence, we expect to provide a whole lot of answers in the near future."

Smith is in prison for cruelty to animals and arson charges related to a 2014 house fire where investigators determined Smith and an accomplice shot and killed a horse and two dogs.

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