Wise County Messenger
WISE COUNTY WEATHER

Arrest made in murder case

Bradford charged in Chico man’s death


FELONY ARREST — Wichita Falls Police officers lead McKinley Bradford to a waiting patrol vehicle following his arrest on a murder warrant Saturday at Red River Hospital in the city. Bradford is charged in the death of a 51-year-old Chico man. COURTESY CHRISTOPHER WALKER/WICHITA FALLS-TIMES RECORD NEWS

FELONY ARREST — Wichita Falls Police officers lead McKinley Bradford to a waiting patrol vehicle following his arrest on a murder warrant Saturday at Red River Hospital in the city. Bradford is charged in the death of a 51-year-old Chico man. COURTESY CHRISTOPHER WALKER/WICHITA FALLS-TIMES RECORD NEWS

An Oklahoma man was arrested in Wichita Falls Saturday and charged in the death of a Chico resident found apparently shot in his home last week.

McKinley Mantrell Bradford, 39, of Lawton, Okla., was taken into custody at Red River Hospital in Wichita Falls by local police serving an arrest warrant around 6 p.m. Saturday, according to Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin.

Bradford emerged as a suspect in the death of 51-year-old John Freeman, who was found dead in a travel trailer on Private Road 1652 north of Chico last Wednesday.

“After two days of investigation,

Wise County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Rangers, with the assistance of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, were able to identify a likely suspect in Lawton, Okla.,” Akin said in a press release issued Sunday. “Following numerous interviews and collection of evidence, the investigation team obtained an arrest warrant for Bradford, charging him with murder.”

The arrest warrant was signed by 97th District Judge Jack McGaughey in Montague County Friday evening.

According to the probable cause affidavit in the case obtained through a public information request to McGaughey’s office, Bradford emerged as a suspect when investigators learned Freeman was having “a relationship” with Bradford’s wife.

“(Bradford) stated he knew John Freeman was having an affair with his wife and had attempted to report the affair to the United States Army because they were both enlisted in the Army,” the affidavit states. “(Bradford) consented to a search of his phone. Investigators reviewed the phone and observed John Freeman’s phone number and a text message that the defendant sent to himself (about Freeman and his wife).”

When investigators interviewed Bradford, he told them he and his young son had left Lawton June 12 and went to a motel in Wichita Falls because their internet service was not working. Bradford said during the night, his child could not sleep, so they decided to take a drive. He said while they were driving, they got within 14 miles of Decatur.

Freeman’s body was found last Wednesday, (June 15) by a woman who said she was in a dating relationship with Freeman (not Bradford’s wife) and went to his travel trailer when she couldn’t reach him by phone for several days. The woman told officers she went inside and found Freeman on the floor and observed “blood everywhere.”

A search warrant was obtained for Freeman’s house, and investigators located an apparent bullet hole in the wall, an apparent .22 caliber bullet projectile lying on the floor and several spent .22 caliber shell casings. Investigators also observed numerous gunshot wounds on the body, which were later confirmed by an autopsy as being caused by a small caliber firearm, the affidavit states.

When asked about any weapons he had, Bradford showed investigators a .22 caliber rifle, which he said he had not used in more than a year.

“Investigators observed what they believed to be trace evidence consistent with blood on the rifle,” the affidavit states. “Investigators also observed what they believed to be prints on the barrel end of the rifle as if someone had grabbed the barrel of the rifle.”

The rifle was collected as evidence and later processed by Wise County crime scene investigators. The firearm “yielded a positive test for blood” with a presumptive test, according to the affidavit.

A search warrant was obtained for Bradford’s silver 2012 Mazda M3I, and a positive presumption for human blood was obtained from the steering wheel, gear shifter and brake pedal, the investigator wrote in the affidavit.

Bradford also gave consent for investigators to search the car, and they found a magazine belonging to a .22 rifle in the trunk and one spent .22 caliber shell casing, the affidavit states.

Investigators also spoke with Bradford’s wife, who told them she and Bradford are still married but separated and living apart. She was asked if she felt Bradford could be responsible for Freeman’s death.

“(The wife) stated she feels her husband is capable of committing murder,” she told investigators, according to the affidavit.

Bradford was transferred from the Wichita County Jail to Wise County Monday afternoon, according to Wise County Jail records. He remained in the Wise County Jail Tuesday with bond set at $150,000, jail records show.

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