Claremore Daily Progress

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August 23, 2013

Murder tarnishes image of 'Duncan, U.S.A.'

(Continued)

DUNCAN, Okla. —

Most people in Duncan get along - including those on the City Council - and most will tell you it’s a great place to live.

“The citizens of Duncan know what kind of people we really are and that what has happened is not the norm in our community,” said City Manager Jim Frieda on Thursday.

But, Frieda acknowledged, "The reality is what people in Australia know about Duncan, what people in Israel know about Duncan, what people in England know about Duncan, they have gotten off of the coverage of this."

In fact, it wasn't Duncan's first murder of the year.

A 16-year-old, Michael Anthony Ray, is in the Stephens County Jail on charges that he killed a 14-year-old girl, Alyssa Wiles, in June. Another boy told police that Ray was angry she had broken up with him.

About a year earlier - and 20 miles away in Stephens County - Braylee Rae Henry, 16, was murdered in a convenience store. Miles Sterling Bench, 22, also is in the county jail facing a first-degree murder charge.

“I would never have believed that when I was elected sheriff five years ago, I would sit here today and have five murder suspects in our jail right now," said Sheriff Wayne McKinney. "… That is really alarming.”

But, like the police chief, McKinney stressed that Duncan is a safe place.

“I just don’t want people to think we have this major crime spree going on and being nervous about living here,” he said.

Last week's crime has also raised racial issues in this city, where about 85 percent of the population is white, about 5 percent are black, and others claim a mix of races including Native American.

Lane, the murder victim, was white, as is the teenager accused of driving the car used in the crime. The teenager accused of pulling the trigger is of mixed race, and the third one arrested is black. The latter two are charged with first-degree murder, while the driver faces lesser offenses that could still land him in prison for 90 years.

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