The District 27 district attorney and the director of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation announced charges have been filed against the suspect in the murder of Donald Hawley, a 24-year-old Wagoner County cold case.
Based on evidence reviewed by the OSBI Cold Case Unit and analyzed by the OSBI lab, District Attorney Jack Thorp charged 58-year-old Kenneth Tyrone Brown with Murder in the First Degree.
“For Mr. Hawley’s family, this day has been a long time coming,” Thorp said. “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.”
On April 7, 1995, the Wagoner Count y Sheriff’s Office requested OSBI investigative assistance in the murder of Hawley, who was found deceased on the bank of the Verdigris River north of Muskogee. He had been beaten and his hands were bound behind his back. Hawley’s wallet was also missing. The medical examiner determined Hawley’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.
At the time, agents collected evidence found near Hawley’s truck, and the vehicle was processed for evidence, including DNA.
“This was a brutal and senseless murder,” said Wagoner County 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.”
The OSBI Cold Case Unit started reviewing the Hawley case in November of 2018, and shortly thereafter began resubmitting evidence to the lab for analysis in hopes DNA could solve this case. The lab found that blood collected from the road near Hawley’s truck and blood from a sock that was recovered are both consistent with Hawley’s DNA. A hair was also collected at the scene and the lab found that the DNA from the hair matched the DNA profile of Brown.
“After nearly a quarter of a century, we finally have answers for Donald Hawley’s family,” said OSBI Director Ricky Adams. “Donald suffered a violent death and certainly this won’t bring him back, but we were never going to give up on the idea of solving his murder. Once the Cold Case Unit was stood up in the fall of 2018, they got involved in this case. And today a suspect has bee n charged. I hope this brings peace to the Hawley family and provides hope for other families desperate for answers.”
Brown is serving life without parole in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for the May 10, 1995 murder of 41-year-old Elizabeth Alloway. Alloway was found dead near 10th and Lincoln Street in Muskogee. She had been beaten and run over. The Medical Examiner determined her cause of death to be blunt force trauma and ruled her death a homicide. Brown became a suspect after it was discovered that he was seen with Alloway hours before her death. He was charged with her murder, and in February 1998, Brown was convicted of first degree murder.