The local newspaper, McCurtain Gazette-News, recently published a story of secret audio recordings in which the county commissioner, the sheriff and two of the sheriff's employees were caught talking about torturing, murdering and then hiding the bodies of a father and son team of local reporters.
The people caught on the recording are McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy, County Commissioner Mark Jennings, Investigator Alice Manning and Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix.
The relevant part of the recording began with a conversation involving Manning talking about how her late father would have beaten McCurtain Gazette-News reporter Chris Willingham.
"My papaw would have whipped his ass, would have wiped him and used him for toilet paper," said Manning. "If my daddy hadn't been run over by a vehicle, he would have been down there."
Jennings then added to the conversation by talking about how he had "two big, deep holes" to bury Willingham and his father Bruce, who was the editor of the paper. Clardy then chimed in by offering his excavator to cover up the holes. Jennings also said he knew "two or three hit men" affiliated with the Louisiana mafia who could murder the father and son reporting team.
"They're very quiet guys," Jennings allegedly said. "And would cut no f------ mercy."
Another part of the recording reveals that Manning stated that she might not be able to restrain herself from resorting to violence if she ever encountered Willingham on the street.
The ire between the sheriff and county officials against the McCurtain Gazette-News stems from a series of stories the local newspaper published in 2021 and 2022 detailing accusations of mismanagement and favoritism within the sheriff's office, including allegations that Clardy and Manning had a "sexual relationship" and were engaging in nepotism when Clardy appointed Manning's brother to be the undersheriff.
The release of the reports led to Manning retaliating by claiming without evidence that Willingham was part of a child pornography ring. This then led Willingham to file a lawsuit, claiming slander and other damages.
Following the release of the recordings, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt released a written statement calling for the resignation of the four county officials in the recording.
"I am both appalled and disheartened to hear the horrid comments made by officials in McCurtain County," said Stitt. "There is simply no place for such hateful rhetoric in the state of Oklahoma, especially by those that serve to represent the community through their respective office. I will not stand idly by while this takes place."
Stitt added that he has asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to conduct its own investigation into the matter. The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office has also confirmed that it is conducting its own investigation.
Josh Reid, while filling in as a guest host for the American Media Periscopes program "Unrestricted Truths with James Grundvig," used the conspiracy against local reporters in McCurtain County as an opportunity to discuss the very pervasive "agenda of secrecy" surrounding all levels of the American government and bureaucratic institutions. (Related: Greenwald: The government is abusing secrecy powers.)
"That right there is what we're up against," he said. "Politicians, elected officials are conspiring against the people – the [local] reporters, the news, people who are uncovering the truth – to murder them to keep their power in place. Now, you gotta imagine: How far did [conspiracy] extend up the ladder?
Reid pointed out how this agenda of secrecy has been around for decades. He referenced the Business Plot attempt to coup former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and install a fascist dictatorship in America in his place, the death of former Senator Joseph McCarthy which may have been an assassination, and the death of President John F. Kennedy, who Reid noted was assassinated "for exactly this type of investigation into criminal conspiracies."
"It has infiltrated every aspect of our society – social, cultural, institutional, academic, political, it is everywhere," warned Reid. "It is infested within the infrastructure of the United States."
Watch this episode of "Unrestricted Truths with James Grundvig" on American Media Periscopes as guest host Josh Reid discusses the secret recordings coming out of McCurtain County, Oklahoma.