Joe Neff Murder: Is Raymond Larry Nichols Dead or Alive?

Joe Neff, a beloved bar owner from Oklahoma, suddenly went missing in May 2009, leaving everyone worried. Sadly, the search for him ended with his dead body being found, marking the beginning of a homicide inquiry. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Murder Comes to Town: Say it Ain’t So’ chronicles how the authorities used old-fashioned police work to connect the killer to the murder weapon. So, let’s find out what happened then, shall we?

How Did Joe Neff Die?

Joe was born in July 1947 in Poteau, Oklahoma. Apart from being a part of the National Guard and being employed as a welder in the past, Joe owned a popular bar between Poteau and Heavener, Oklahoma. The 61-year-old loved hanging out with friends at the bar and was known as a great father to his two daughters. Loved ones described him as a generous man who cared for others. So, when the worrying incident came to light in May 2009, it was a shock.

On May 14, 2009, one of Joe’s employees went to the bar to open it, but inside, that person discovered blood, Joe’s cowboy hat, and his lighter. However, Joe’s car was parked outside, and he was nowhere to be seen. Friends, family, and the authorities mounted a search for him, and three days later, a fisherman found Joe’s body floating in a strip pit pond near Pocola, Oklahoma. Joe’s cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the back of the head with a 9mm handgun.

Who Killed Joe Neff?

The authorities didn’t believe the motive was robbery since there was money on Joe’s person when he was discovered. They felt the killing was personal. The businessman’s hands and legs were bound with wire and zip ties, and his head was wrapped in duct tape. Furthermore, Joe’s body was tied to a cement block to weigh it down in the water. Now, the authorities had to find the murder weapon and who fired it.

Through interviews, the police learned that Joe’s ex-wife, Shirley Neff, had been asking him for money, and he refused to give it to her. According to witnesses, Joe previously mentioned that if anything were to happen to him, it would be Shirley and her brother, Raymond Larry Nichols, who would be the prime suspects. With this lead, the investigators turned their attention to Shirley and Raymond, digging into their lives.

Then, the authorities learned that Raymond’s common-law wife bought a Ruger 9mm pistol at a pawn shop in 2001. Upon questioning, she admitted to giving it to Raymond. So, the police returned to the pond where the body was found and had a dive team search for the weapon in July 2013. They found a Ruger 9mm firearm in the pond, and its serial number matched the one Raymond’s common-law wife bought. Furthermore, tests revealed that it was, in fact, the murder weapon.

How Did Raymond Larry Nichols Die?

Image Credit: 5 News

Raymond was arrested in August 2013 and then stood trial the following year. He claimed to be innocent, with the defense adding that no direct evidence linked him to the murder. However, the jury felt otherwise and, after less than four hours of deliberation, found Raymond guilty of murdering Joe. In July 2014, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. In the end, Raymond died on March 28, 2015, at Lindsay Municipal Hospital in Oklahoma, with the probable cause of death being announced as lung cancer. He was 62 years old.

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