A CITY ASKS 'WHY': 8 deaths in Broken Arrow being investigated as a murder-suicide
By John Dobberstein, Editor
Investigators said Friday they believe the 8 people who were found deceased in a burning house in Broken Arrow were victims of a murder-suicide, including 6 children located in the back bedroom that was engulfed in flames.
Broken Arrow Police Chief Brandon Berryhill said the 6 children were ages 1 to 13, but he did not identify their specific ages. The adults, who are described as the “main suspects,” were found near the front of the house with significant injuries that firefighters immediately suspected to be criminal in nature.
Kris Welch, the landlord who has owned the home at 425 S. Hickory Ave. for the last several years, identified the adults living at that address as Brian Anthony Nelson and Brittney Nichole Nelson. Court and other public records also indicate those were the adults living there.
Police would not confirm that gunshots were the cause of death for the victims, but Berryhill said investigators did recover firearms from the house and they don’t believe any of the victims died from the fire itself.
A final cause of death for the 8 victims will be determined by medical examiners. Evidence from the scene has been processed and sent to ATF labs for analysis. The Oklahoma State Fire Marshal’s Office, Broken Arrow Fire Department and ATF have been working with the Broken Arrow Police Department on the investigation.
Welch said she had some contact with the family over the years when she was there for property inspections. When asked if the family seemed happy Welch said “not really,” and she noted Brittney didn’t talk much, which she questioned. Court records show the Nelsons were married in 2008.
She added that Brian often wore T-shirts with “kind of stark or dark images” and that she got a “weird” vibe from him. Welch said she believed the couple both went to college but they were currently not making the payments on the house, instead utilizing the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency.
Welch said she learned about the fire after her ex-husband contacted her on Facebook.
“What gets me is that this happened at 4 p.m. and nobody got out, so that only points to one thing. But that’s speculation on my part," Welch told reporters Friday.
Berryhill said police hadn’t received any calls about trouble from the address in several years.