A 40 year Tulsa mystery revealed.
On October 13, 1981, Gertrude Marshall Blakey, a wealthy 73-year-old Tulsan, was attacked in the doorway of her home at 1843 East 31st Place. Forty years later, it remains an unsolved open case of homicide.
Her grandson and family trustee, Marshall Johnson (age 47) has independently investigated the murder since 2008. He says, “the court system has been used to hinder my investigation of Gertrude Blakey’s murder.” To that point, Johnson was accused July 21, 2021, of stalking by Tulsa Judge Millie E. Otey and her husband attorney Sam P. Daniel III who have lived in Blakey’s former home since her death.
Johnson left a message on Daniel’s business phone. Johnson and Daniel’s characterization of the call dramatically differ, but both agree the call was a decade after any previous contact.
In an exclusive interview, this writer called Daniel who said, “I just want this guy to leave us alone. But if he is calling you to continue this harassment then I am going to do something about it. I don’t know what, but I take this very seriously. I have put up with this for a long time as well as have several other very prominent attorneys and government officials in this town. I don’t want to tell you how to do your business, but I would definitely ask you not to publish anything about this. This is a very problematic situation.”
When a reporter is told old not to publish, that often guarantees they will publish. Once identified as on a story, it is on the record.
Johnson believes the home and some $30 million of Gertrude Blakey assets were improperly dispersed over time. He has spent most of his adult life seeking answers and justice for his grandmother. Who killed Gertrude Blakey, who profited and how was the crime covered up? He has repeatedly contacted the Tulsa Police Department and the United States District Attorneys office in Tulsa. He has hired multiple attorneys over decades.
But how can a phone message on a business number be grounds for a stalking complaint when that is the only contact in the current decade? Johnson lives on the West Coast and, based on his experience with law enforcement and the Oklahoma Court System says, “there is no way I will ever be back to Oklahoma – not to visit, not to live, not for love or money.”
Johnson said, “I called Daniel and left a message that I was looking forward to seeing him in court. He is an attorney so how threatened could he feel, a legal professional of considerable experience? What a joke.”
Daniel’s police report (#T21012158 dated 7/21/2021) narrative begins, “I received a voice message on my work phone from a person identified as Marshall Johnson from a phone number [redacted]. He stated that I murdered his grandmother for the purpose of stealing her house in conjunction with a conspiracy with the estate attorneys. I purchased that house in 1982 through a brokerage firm and it was sold out of an estate proceeding with the approval of the Judge based upon appraised value. I have lived in it continuously since that time and currently with my wife.”
The Tulsa Police Department did not call the number Daniel provided nor did Daniel call himself in any attempt to resolve or address anything.
Daniel returned a message left on his business phone by this writer and I began the interview identifying as “David Arnett a reporter on a story for publication.”
Daniel’s first reaction to the question of his protective order (PO) request to prevent stalking was to laugh. He agreed it was unusual that the request for a PO had been extended for 10 months by the court – in some cases with neither party appearing. The following conversation was recorded.
Arnett: What was the nature of the threat?
Daniel: It’s in the PO. The reason it was continued is that we could never find the guy to get service on him. He is somewhere out of state. The PO is for stalking. Whatever was in there was what it was based on.
Arnett: You understand [the core issue] is an unsolved homicide of a woman attacked in the doorway of the home?
Daniel: I understand all about that. That’s part of Mr. Johnson’s problem.
Arnett: Isn’t that more of the Tulsa Police Department’s problem?
Daniel: It could be.
Arnett: If your grandmother was killed and the case still open 40-years later, wouldn’t you be asking questions about that?
Daniel: Who me?
Arnett: You or anyone?
Daniel: Doesn’t have anything to do with me. I just bought the house. It went into Gertrude Blakey’s estate. She did not die in the house, but in the hospital. Someone attacked her in the home, and she did die, and her estate was probated.
My wife and I bought the house out of probate through two independent brokers one for the buyer and one for the seller and we have lived there for all these years. It was listed by the broker, advertised and everything.
Arnett: What did he say in 2021 that was so troubling?
Daniel: I don’t recall off the top of my head, but he has a pattern of harassing and stalking over the years. He is under a delusion that he owns the house, basically. He is under some sort of mental delusion of some kind. I don’t really know what his problem is.
Daniel: Why is this such an interest to anybody?
Arnett: Because it is a 40-year case that has never been closed. It would seem reasonable to me if I had a relative die that I would want to know how they died, what investigation was ongoing and where their assets went.
Daniel: That has nothing to do with me.
Arnett: Is there anything else you could share about why this stalking PO request was necessary? I did talk with him briefly and Marshall said that all he did was leave a message on your business phone that he was looking forward to seeing you in court with the same language you gave him over a decade ago.
Daniel: I don’t understand what that means. He has no business calling me about anything. He is just delusional. We just feel like we needed a PO. If you know where he is, I would appreciate you telling me.
Arnett: Contact by telephone every decade or so constitutes stalking?
Daniel: Well, I don’t know how to answer that. We have a right to ask for a PO and if the court decides to grant it, that is the court’s decision. Like I said, we feel very much harassed and stalked by this guy. There is a lot more to this that I don’t have the time or desire to go into, but did he call you?
Arnett: I have a lot of sources, but the use of a PO in a political race got me curious. How they are used by judges and lawyers to their own advantage and to disadvantage those without the burden of a law degree.
Daniel: He is the one that is harassing us. We don’t care what he does, he just needs to go on and live his life. Just because we own his grandmother’s house that we bought and paid for and have lived in all these years, he should not be harassing us about anything. He may not have told you, but he thinks he owns that house.
During many conversations with Marshall Johnson, he has never asserted that he owns the house. Johnson says his grandmother owned it and “that house was part of her estate that was fraudulently dispersed if not embezzled contrary to the directions of her Last Will and Testament.” This writer declared this difference to Daniel.
Arnett: He never told me that.
Daniel: That’s the whole problem. He feels like everybody in the legal system perpetuated a wrong on him back when he was young, and he is just crazy. He is just nuts. I can’t even tell you how many people he has called and harassed over the years. It’s not just me.
Arnett: Who else could it be?
Daniel: Well, why don’t you ask him? I don’t even know, innumerable people, I don’t even know. It is a slander, and it is harassment. I am very, very, very serious about it. I appreciate you calling, because if you have knowledge of this, then you and I are going to be talking again about it. Did he call you?
Arnett: I appreciate your time today. I hear good things about you as a respected attorney and certainly capable.
Daniel: Of course, I respect the First Amendment and freedom of the press and you as an individual with your name and reputation, but my wife and I are very serious about this, and I think he is dangerous, and he is very manipulative. If I were you, I would be very careful about this! Very careful!
Arnett: Thank you for your time. I appreciate your comments.
Johnson says he has never threatened violence against Sam Daniel, Millie Otey, their daughter, or anyone else. While the filings against him are vague and, Johnson suggests, slanderous when specific, he is very exact on his time frames and details including his only interaction with the daughter of Daniel and Otey.
Johnson said, “In April 2008 I found a phone number for the address and called. A young woman answered, and I explained that my grandmother lived in the home previously and I would like to talk with the current owners. The woman said, ‘my grandfather built this home, and you have the wrong number. This house has been in my family since it was new.’ Then the woman hung up.
“I called back and said my grandmother was murdered in the front door of that home and there is no way your family built it. I did not know I was talking to a 16-year-old girl,” Johnson said.
Gertrude Blakey laid in the doorway of her home for an undetermined time before being found by neighbors including, Rob Shofner then 13-years old. She was transported to the hospital, but no one called police. The Tulsa Police Department (TPD) found out about the crime when the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled her death a homicide by blunt trauma eleven days later.
TPD appeared at the home to discover members of the Kennedy family removing property. Police told the Kennedy(s) to stop removing things from the home. Johnson says his investigations suggest Bruce Kennedy and Robert Huffman and others invaded the estate while named executors prior to probate.
The Kennedy and Marshall families were stockholders in a lumber company which provided a significant part of their wealth. Over generations, stock was and is held by multiple relatives and had been the subject of a civil suit, Kennedy vs. Marshall, decided June 26, 1945, in favor of Marshall. The relationship flow between the families while mostly friendly was competitive in desire to control the lumber company.
In May 1979 Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) removed four children from Gertrude’s daughter Ann Blakey Elder’s care. Ann was one of eight beneficiaries of the Mable Marshall Trust, her grandmother and Gertrude’s mother’s estate.
Johnson said, “Ann Elder apparently birthed me, but she did not raise me, and I do not look at her as my mother. With husband Richard Elder, Ann’s total obsession was enterprising crime and doing drugs. Ann had been a police dispatcher and had babies by two TPD officers Richard and Larry Stokes. She continually escalated her drug use and criminal activity. She was not a fan of alcohol, but her drug consumption led to obvious personal hygiene failures and the end of her life. At the time of her death, Ann Elder had a warrant out for her arrest and was facing 10-years in prison.”
Johnson said, “There were scores of issues with the family, but Gertrude was addressing them. In August 1979 Gertrude changed her Last Will and Testament to specifically exclude Ann from any benefit but included Ann’s children. At the time of her death, there were three matters of dispute; the Gertrude Marshall Blakey Trust, Mable Marshall Trust and Gertrude Marshall Blakey’s Last Will and Testament.”
Marshall Johnson was 5 years old when he went into foster care, and he has lived a hard scrabble life. DHS did not represent him or the other five children of Ann in trust or probate proceedings. It appears to have taken three probate case numbers to settle the estate.
In February 2012, Marshall Johnson requested Articles of Distribution of the Trust be read in open court. Upon that reading, Judge Jessie Harris declared that all the children of Ann Elder were, in truth, beneficiaries of the Trust. Johnson gained control of the Gertrude Marshall Blakey Trust in 2013 “and immediately turned the file over to TPD,” he said.
In 2021, Johnson finally found a copy of Gertrude Marshall Blakey’s Last Will and Testament confirming that he and his siblings were designated beneficiaries of the estate. That discovery was the motivation for his call to Daniel in July.
In direct contradiction of Daniel’s assertions that Johnson is “delusional” and “crazy” Johnson has built and rebuilt custom cars including mechanical, bodywork and paint for over 20-years.
In the last 30-days, an attorney representing Marshall Johnson has filed a Freedom of Information request with TPD for the case file now open, but 40 years old. Johnson says TPD is now beyond the time required to respond. Johnson expects his attorney will file actions in Federal Court to compel disclosure within the near future. Will #justiceforgertrude trend?
Johnson said, “We will find justice for Gertrude and Sam Daniel’s protective order request is a distraction. I’m not the issue, Gertrude’s murder demands justice – that’s the issue.”
Editor’s Note: This report was first published on Arnett.Substack.com and distributed by email to subscribers. David Arnett founded Tulsa Today in 1996 and continues as publisher. He was once a daily reporter covering the city beat for the now departed afternoon paper, The Tulsa Tribune, and has been a paid contributor for many print and broadcast news organizations.
Arnett has won two national awards as a First Amendment Advocate, hosted a radio talk show for a year and currently provides communications consulting to select private and public organizations. He served as public information officer for the now completed Vision2025 projects and, as downtown forgot the reason for the season, organized the Tulsa Christmas Parade at Tulsa Hills in 2011. Arnett attends the Anglican Church, brews his own beer, plays music and is a fourth generation Tulsan and Eagle Scout.