Home » » The Cathouse Murders

The Cathouse Murders

At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Monday, November 9, 2009, Oklahoma City's 911 emergency dispatch center received a call reporting a house fire on the 1500 block of Southwest 56th Street.
Firefighters on roof of burning house
At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Monday, November 9, 2009, Oklahoma City's 911 emergency dispatch center received a call reporting a house fire on the 1500 block of Southwest 56th Street. The caller, a neighbor down the street from the blaze, was calm as she described the scene to the 911 operator from her home.

"It's a house on fire," she said. "It's coming out of the roof...fire...all over the front porch and out the roof."

"Does anyone live there?" asked the operator.

"Uh, yeah, they do."

Within minutes, firefighters from the Oklahoma City Fire Department (OCFD) were on site attempting to extinguish the blaze that illuminated the early morning sky in that part of the city. Upon their arrival, firefighters made efforts to determine whether anyone was inside the burning single level brick house, and located one body which they managed to remove. Information about the fire was slow in coming at first, and was eventually coordinated through the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD).

After extinguishing the fire, which gutted much of the inside of the house as well as the roof, investigators located three additional bodies inside the residence. The bodies were taken to the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office where definitive autopsies were conducted on each. Local television reported the finding that three women and one man died in the fire. The fire remained under investigation for some time, but it was soon revealed that the fire had been deliberately set.

Although homicide investigators, including OCPD Detective Ryan Porter, were making every effort to maintain control of the case and were revealing details to media outlets in an orderly fashion to avoid compromising their case, it was clear from the outsetespecially with four people dead inside a house that had been deliberately set aflamethat some form of homicide was involved. Despite this obvious conclusion, police officials did not immediately confirm that they were working the case as a homicide investigation, stating instead that they wanted to wait and see the results of the autopsies. Although local reporters had stated that two of the four victims had been identified, the OCPD would not release any names until family members were first notifiedprotocol in such a case.
"We believe we know [the victims' identities], but we certainly want to make sure and err on the side of caution," OCPD Master Sergeant. Gary Knight said.

One of the victims, according to Sgt. Chris Miller, had apparent lacerations to her stomach, face and neck, while the other three victims were burned beyond recognition.

Police investigators also said that they had reason to believe that at least one other person had been inside the house but had left before firefighters arrived. Although they would not say how they had come to that belief, they did indicate that they wanted to speak with the person.

"[Investigators] have not spoken to this person, and obviously they want a chance to do that," said Sgt. Knight.

Police officials neither confirmed nor denied that the person was a suspect, but a television news station reported that the person of interest may have been the renter of the house.

Although police officials had not immediately released any of the victims' names, it was not long before someone placed a makeshift memorial, including a large teddy bear, on the front lawn of the burned-out home in honor of one Jennifer Ermey. The name led to a MySpace tribute page that included a message that stated: "Jennifer Ermey has gone onto heaven R.I.P. 11-09-09." The MySpace message appeared the same day as the fire.


Brooke Phillips - The Cathouse Murders
Brooke Phillips
The autopsies showed that all four victims had been shot and that the gunshots had resulted in their deaths. Two of the female victims had also been pregnantbringing the death toll to six.
"If a woman is pregnant and she is the victim of a homicide, typically that is counted as two homicides," Knight said.

Because the gunshots had been the cause of the victims' deaths, it now appeared that the fire had been set to conceal the crime of murder.

The victims were eventually identified as Brooke Phillips, 22; her unborn baby; Milagros Barrera, 22, also known as Millie; her unborn baby; Jennifer Ermey, 25; and Casey Barrientos, 32.

According to partial autopsy reports, Phillips' cause of death was determined to be a "perforating gunshot wound" to her head, specifically to the right temple. The autopsy report also showed that Phillips' throat had been slit, and she had been stabbed in her abdomen. She also had suffered gunshots to her left arm, left index finger, and right leg, and had cuts to her hands and a wrist. The presence of a petroleum odor was also noted. Barrera's cause of death was said to be "perforating gunshot wounds" to her back and head. Barrera had also been shot in the thigh.

According to charge documents filed in Oklahoma County District Court, all of the victims had sustained stabbing and gunshot wounds.

Although Phillips' body was burned nearly beyond recognition, the postmortem examination revealed a profane tattoo on the inside of her lower lip. Her relatives later told the police she would pull her lip down and expose the tattoo to those with whom she became upset.

According to a friend, Phillips had been shot six times. A relative, said the friend, identified Phillips' badly-burned corpse by the tattoos on her body.

As he continued working the case with his colleagues, Detective Porter indicated in an affidavit and application for an arrest warrant that he had been able to locate and interview an eyewitness who had been present inside the house when the shootings occurred. According to the witness, a person referred to as "Hooligan" had been arguing with one of the victims when the shooting began. Although "Hooligan" told the witness that his problem was not with the witness, the witness nonetheless ran from the house and escaped.

Porter and his colleagues also learned from a neighbor that a car had been heard leaving the house approximately 20 minutes before anyone noticed that the house was on fire.

A short time later, Porter identified "Hooligan" as David Allen Tyner, 28. His whereabouts were unknown.

Search warrant

Following the execution of a search warrant at the crime scene, investigators confiscated eight spent casings from two separate firearms, a folding knife, two box knives, a white Bic lighter, a digital scale, sandwich-sized Ziploc bags, and large garbage bags. They also seized plastic bags containing marijuana, varying in weight from .60 grams to 5.77 grams. It appeared to some investigators that the house may have been the site of a possible drug-dealing operation. Small amounts of currency were also found, along with debit cards belonging to Phillips and other identification, several cell phones, and a pill bottle containing antibiotics that had been prescribed to Phillips. There were also a number of live rounds of ammunition found inside a sock.

In the aftermath of the horrific crime, investigators set up a tip line, and placed a sign with the tip line telephone number outside the crime scene. They also devoted a room on the third floor of the OCPD headquarters building for investigators to examine evidence retrieved from the burnt-out house, utilizing computers and dry-erase boards to document and develop the case.

"There's a tremendous amount of evidence, a tremendous amount of information that they're processing," Sgt. Knight told reporters. "This is something we are taking very seriously, especially when we're talking about a homicide with six victims in one event."

The evening news three days later announced that Phillips had worked as a prostitute at the Moonlite BunnyRanch brothel in Mound House, Nev., not far from Carson City and Reno. The Moonlite BunnyRanch is a legal, licensed brothelprostitution is legal in much of Nevada, with the notable exception of Clark County, where Las Vegas is located.

Brooke Phillips

Brooke Phillips, while working as a prostitute in Nevada, had been featured on the HBO reality TV series, Cathouse.
As the additional information about the case surfaced, it was learned that Brooke Phillips, while working as a prostitute in Nevada, had been featured on the HBO reality TV series, Cathouse. The television program, a documentary of sorts, depicted the lives of those working at the brothel.

Phillips used the pseudonym Hayden Brooks. A native of Moore, Okla., part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, she had gained a certain amount of celebrity or notoriety, depending upon one's point of view, from her work on the show. Moonlite BunnyRanch owner Dennis Hof, a frequent customer who had purchased the establishment in 1993 for $1 million, confirmed that Phillips had worked at his establishment for the past couple of years, and characterized her as a "good girl" who had recently returned to Oklahoma after becoming pregnant.

"Give us a little bit of closure and then go ahead and apprehend the criminal that killed this girl and the other people," Hof said shortly after learning of the crime.

According to Hof, Phillips contacted him about two years before her death expressing a desire to work at the Moonlite BunnyRanch. The month prior to her death, she had reportedly told Hof of her pregnancy, her desire to have the baby and her desire to return to work after having the child. Hof said that "the Bunnies were...planning to throw her a baby shower." He said that she had not known who the father was, and had not appeared to care. Three months pregnant at the time of her death, the baby had been due in late spring 2010.

Hof told RadarOnline.com that Phillips had been a pro when it came to stripper pole moves, which she had loved to use to accentuate her beautiful body. She had always been on the pole at the Moonlite BunnyRanch, Hof said, because "she loved it."

"We are replacing the pole...with a brand new one," Hof added. He said the new pole would be inscribed the "Hayden Brooks Memorial Pole." Hof said that they would also place a plaque on the ceiling with a photo of Phillips and the inscription "You'll always be on the pole." Hof described Phillips as having had a great personality, and said that she had been the Miss Congeniality of the brothel.

According to published reports, Phillips was the mother of a six-year-old daughter to whom she had given birth when she was 15. The child reportedly lived with a relative in Oklahoma. The girl's father, Phillips' ex-boyfriend, reportedly had been involved in a custody dispute with Phillips at the time of her death, and learned of Phillips' death through media reports.

The other victims

A possible motive for the multiple murders surfaced as police began to learn more about the other victims of the early morning carnage. Barrientos, the only male victim in the case, had apparently been in and out of prison for drug convictions beginning in 1997. He had also reportedly been involved in a drive-by shooting. Barrientos, who had been released from prison in July 2009, according to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, had devil's horns tattooed on his forehead and was fond of wearing jewelrylots of it. Theories that a possible drug-dealing dispute may have led to the murders began to emerge, but it remained to be seen whether the cops could build a case around that theory.

Victims from left to right: Jennifer Ermey, Milagros "Millie" Barrera and Casey Barrientos

Not much was known about Barrera. Born in Peru in 1987, she had graduated from Moore High School in 2007, and had worked in retail cellular telephone sales until her death. She was described by family and friends as a "beautiful, loving, and caring person" who had loved life and tried to enjoy it to the fullest.

"She was an amazing person," a friend said. "She was the happiest person."

Similarly, Jennifer Ermey was remembered as a beautiful woman, full of inspiration.

"She was an amazing, sweet person who will be greatly missed by all that knew her," a friend wrote on a MySpace page that had been set up as a memorial. "She had a smile that could light up a room. Her life was cut way too short, but she touched a lot of lives in her short time in this world."

Another friend, who had met Ermey in the eighth grade, characterized her as a good person.

"I don't know anyone who could have a problem with her," the friend said. "She was just an amazing person, a good spirit. I love her. I just feel maybe she was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Investigators noted that the last entry on Ermey's MySpace page read: "Throwing on my dress and going to pick up Millie."

It was also revealed that investigators had stepped up their efforts to find David Allen Tyner who, according to sources in the prosecutor's office, had closer ties to Barrientos than originally known. It appeared that Tyner, a veteran of the war in Iraq, had worked as a bodyguard for Barrientos. Tyner, a former marine, was also a cage fighter, participating in mixed martial arts full-contact bouts inside a cage.

David Allen Tyner

David Allen Tyner
David Allen Tyner
Aware that he was being hunted as a suspect for six murders, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2009, a week after the slayings, David Allen Tyner surrendered to authorities in Mayes County, northeast of Tulsa, near the Missouri and Arkansas borders. He was taken into custody without incident, and was brought back to the Oklahoma County Jail where he was held pending charges. Detectives indicated that they did not believe he had acted alone, and acknowledged that they had identified a second suspect but were not yet ready to release his name.

"We don't believe [Tyner] acted alone," Knight said. "We've identified the one suspect, but that doesn't yet tell us what his motive is for doing this....Often times these investigations are like a big puzzle to solve, and certainly that can present a challenge, but not a challenge that we can't overcome."

A major reason that detectives did not believe that Tyner had acted alone was the fact that bullet casings from two different guns had been found at the crime scene, typically indicating that at least two shooters had been involved.

There was also speculation that Tyner, for reasons not yet ascertained by police, may have been gunning for Barrientos and that the others had been taken out because they had been witnesses who could identify Tyner to the police if allowed to live.

Investigators learned that Tyner, a member of the Cherokee Nation, was a member of a gang known as the Indian Brotherhood. According to Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetzel, a number of altercations at three prisons between American Indian and Hispanic inmates had followed Tyner's arrest, and Whetzel and others in Oklahoma law enforcement believed these had been deliberately coordinated and were related somehow to Tyner and to Barrientos, who had been Hispanic. A number of inmates from the correctional facilities affected were hospitalized with stab wounds before corrections officials tightened security and stopped the violent outbursts. No reasons were given as to why authorities believed the violence had been deliberately coordinated.

Tyner had been an All-American wrestler in high school, and it was reported that he had wrestled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga prior to joining the Marines. He was characterized by his high school coach, Johnny Cook, as having been a "good kid" and that the charges against him did not fit his character.

"He obviously had a strong work ethic and a strong will to succeed, being a two-time All-American and a state runner-up," Cook said in an interview with the Cherokee Phoenix. "But he was very kind-hearted, too. If someone was being bullied or picked on in school, he would take up for that individual. That's the David I knew...he would give you the shirt off his back."

Tyner was subsequently charged with six counts of murder, but investigators still did not propose a definite motive for the killings, although they continued to theorize that the murders may have been motivated by a drug operation or drug deal gone bad. Tyner has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Bolstering the potential drug operation theory, in addition to the drugs, paraphernalia, and money found inside the house after the fire had been extinguished, was the fact that Casey Barrientos had felt the need for a bodyguard. Barrientos had also been known to wear a great deal of jewelry, had been present at a location where it appeared that drug deals had been conducted, and an estimated $10,000 in jewelry that Barrientos was believed to have been wearing was mostly missing when his body was found. According to published reports, police believed the shooters had stolen the jewelry: a white gold cross necklace with diamonds, matching white gold and diamond earrings, and a white gold bracelet adorned with diamonds.

A friend of Brooke Phillips maintained that Brooke was not involved with drugs directly and that she had likely been at the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Brooke never used drugs," her friend said. "She barely even drank. But she did date a drug dealer on and off."

Denny Edward Phillips

Denny Edward Phillips
Denny Edward Phillips
On Monday, April 26, 2010, Denny Edward Phillips, 32, the previously unnamed person of interest in the case, was being sought for the burglary of a Tulsa police detective's home in which guns, a Tulsa police uniform, badges, and other items were stolen. When cornered by Tulsa police officers outside a motel, Phillips, reportedly no relation to Brooke Phillips, allegedly pointed a gun at them and was shot three times, once in the chest and twice in the abdomen. He was hospitalized in critical condition, but survived his injuries.

"He has a history of committing crimes, with a long criminal record behind him, and was a cage fighter like the other guy they already arrested," Gary Gardner, Barrera's stepfather, told RadarOnline.com. "My daughter and her unborn baby, along with the other victims, deserve justice."

According to Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, Denny Phillips had been identified as a person of interest in the investigation into the six homicides of November 9, 2009, early in the case. Prater stated in an e-mail to his employees issued prior to the police shootout with Phillips that Phillips was "a very dangerous person who ordered the hits on six people in south Oklahoma City," and that Phillips had reason "to target some associates" in the Oklahoma City area. Prater said that he had issued the warning to his employees because of concerns that Phillips might use the stolen uniform and badges in order to pose as a Tulsa police officer, presumably because of the items stolen from the Tulsa police detective's home.

A subsequent search of the motel room where Phillips had been staying turned up two guns that had been reported stolen from the Tulsa police detective's home. Phillips was not initially charged in the burglary of the detective's home, but the investigation was continuing.

Phillips had spent much of his adult life incarceratedhe was 18 when he was first sent to prison. Phillips' criminal history included 1996 convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and other crimes, including a jail escape. In the assault conviction, he stabbed a male in the shoulder with a belt-buckle knife and pleaded guilty to the charge. He was released in May 2007 after spending nearly 11 years in prison.

Following his release from prison, Phillips took up cage fighting. In January 2010, he was arrested in Mayes County, Okla., during a traffic stop in which officers reportedly found a stolen .40-caliber handgun, along with ingredients that could be used to manufacture methamphetamine. After the traffic stop, an officer reported that Phillips had received text messages on his cell phone in which someone wrote, "need a half, will pay you Monday." Phillips admitted possessing a handgun at the time because, he claimed, he had been threatened by someone.

He was charged in January 2010 in Mayes County District Court as a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, a violation of his parole. Related to the shootout with police in April, Phillips was charged on Thursday, May 20, 2010, with possession of a firearm and of feloniously pointing a firearm at police officer in an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa.

Bound for trial

At a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, July 13, 2010, the state court count of possessing a firearm as a felon was dismissed at the request of prosecutors due to Phillips' recent indictment in U.S. District Court. A Tulsa County judge ordered him bound over for trial on a charge of feloniously pointing a firearm at the Tulsa police officers who had tracked him to the motel where the shootout occurred.

Prosecutors also alleged that Phillips was the leader of the Indian Brotherhood gang, of which Tyner was also reputedly a member, and contended that Phillips was a flight risk, filing a motion to raise his bail to $750,000 in the Tulsa case.

Phillips has not yet entered a plea to the charges that have so far been laid. Phillips also has not been charged with the Oklahoma City slayings, but police are continuing their investigation to determine what part, if any, he may have had in that case

As they had from the case's outset, OCPD detectives remained cautious and continued to hold their cards close to the chest, releasing very little information. As of July 2010, the motive for the killings on November 9, 2009, remained unclear, and Tyner had proclaimed his innocence to a relative as well as pleading not guilty in court. Tyner apparently had a number of people rooting for him, including a close friend who had stated that he believed Tyner may have suffered post traumatic stress syndrome following his tour of duty in Iraq. It has been reported that Tyner does not appear to have a prior criminal history, but, so far, Tyner was the only person who had been charged in the Oklahoma City slayings. Police investigation continues, but the events of that fatal night remain to be fully explained.

Share this article :

0 Comment:

Post a Comment

The World Of Serial Killers | Site map
Template Modify by Creating Website. Inpire by Darkmatter Rockettheme Proudly powered by Blogger