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NC man wanted in wife’s slaying caught near Mexican border with cash

Man wanted in wife’s slaying caught near Mexican border with cash

The Nash County Sheriff’s Department reports that Lynn Keel, on the run for several days, was arrested in Arizona, 34 miles from the Mexico border. An arrest warrant was issued for Keel Friday in the murder of his wife Diana Keel.
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The Nash County Sheriff’s Department reports that Lynn Keel, on the run for several days, was arrested in Arizona, 34 miles from the Mexico border. An arrest warrant was issued for Keel Friday in the murder of his wife Diana Keel.

A Nash County man wanted on a first-degree murder charge in the death of his wife Diana Alejandro Keel has been caught in Arizona.

Rexford Lynn Keel Jr.’s capture took place on I-10 near Tucson, Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said in a press conference streamed via WTVD Sunday afternoon. Keel is being held in Tucson awaiting extradition to North Carolina.

Keel, 57, fled after a warrant was issued for his arrest on Friday. Keel was considered to be armed and dangerous, reported News & Observer media partner WTVD.

Law enforcement officials had asked the public to be on the lookout for a gold or pewter colored 1998 Chevrolet pickup truck with NC license plate BBM9232. Photos of Keel and of the same type of truck in question were posted on the Nash County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page.

In a press conference held Sunday afternoon, Stone said Keel was arrested in the gold colored truck, which was a vehicle owned by Lynn Keel’s father. Both of Keel’s vehicles had previously been seized by authorities.

LynnKeel_NashCo.jpg
The Nash County Sheriff’s Department is searching for a gold or pewter colored 1998 Chevrolet Stepside pickup truck with NC license plate BBM9232. The truck may be driven by Lynn Keel, right. Nash County Sheriff's Department

Stone said Keel left North Carolina before the arrest warrant was issued on Friday, but that after the warrant was issued, he was considered a fugitive.

Stone said Keel was captured 34 miles from the Mexico border, traveling west with a large amount of cash. If the capture had been delayed just a little longer, “it could have made it a lot tougher,” Stone said.

Stone and other Nash County officials will leave for Tucson Monday morning to start the process of getting Keel back to North Carolina.

Diana Keel’s disappearance

According to WTVD, Lynn Keel told officials he last saw his 38-year-old wife leaving their home with friends on Friday, March 8. The Nash County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release that Diana Keel was reported missing on Saturday, March 9.

On Tuesday, March 12, Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said in a press conference shared by WTVD that a decomposing body was found by a DOT worker in Edgecombe County woods. WTVD reported that Lynn Keel was questioned that day, but released. The Nash County Sheriff’s department released a statement on Wednesday, March 13, confirming that the body found in Edgecombe County was Diana Keel.

A warrant for Lynn Keel’s arrest was issued Friday, March 15.

The condition of Diana Keel’s body and the manner of death has not been released by the Sheriff’s Department.

WTVD has reported that Diana’s family said there were problems in the Keel marriage. Diana’s mother told WTVD that Diana planned to divorce Lynn, but he threatened her. Sheriff Stone confirmed, according to WTVD, that “there had been concerns between the husband at one time and Mrs. Keel but there has been nothing lately that has been reported on that.”

CBS 17 was the first to report that Lynn Keel’s first wife, Elizabeth Bess Edwards Keel, died at the same Nash County home on Jan. 1, 2006. WNCN reported that an investigator said Elizabeth Keel “fell on the back steps and died.”

On Sunday, Nash County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Brandon Medina said in a phone interview with The News & Observer that the issue of re-examining the death of Elizabeth Keel would be up to the district attorney’s office.

“It’s not eliminated, it’s still on the table,” Medina said. “We just have to prioritize and our first priority was to get him, and then we’ll look at other things.”

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