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Who killed Holly Cantrell? Cody Ketchum indicted for first-degree murder in 2017 case that shocked America

Cody Ketchum killed Holly Cantrell, 40, in 2017 and a first-degree murder charge has been filed against him
UPDATED OCT 20, 2022
Cody Ketchum (R) was charged in the murder of Holly Cantrell (L) (Holly Cantrell/Facebook and McAlester News Capital/video screenshot)
Cody Ketchum (R) was charged in the murder of Holly Cantrell (L) (Holly Cantrell/Facebook and McAlester News Capital/video screenshot)

PITTSBURG COUNTY, OKLAHOMA: The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office has formally unsealed indictments filed against a man charged in the murder of Holly Cantrell, a McAlester woman who went missing in 2017. Attorney General John O'Connor said in a press release that his office will prosecute a first-degree murder charge filed against 36-year-old Cody Ketchum. He is also facing a misdemeanor charge of destroying evidence.

Ketchum has also been accused of deleting text messages that he and Cantrell exchanged from his cell phone. "The multicounty grand jury is an invaluable resource the state depends on to assist law enforcement and prosecutors in complex cases like this," O'Connor said in the release, according to EIN News. “I appreciate those serving in law enforcement, who assisted in this investigation, and those serving on the multicounty grand jury for their dedication to this public service. My staff is committed to investigating cold cases and will continue to seek justice for the families of victims of violent crime.”


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Not much is known about Ketchum except that he was being held on a $1 million bond, according to Pittsburg County Jail records. On October 13, the two indictments were returned by the 19th Multicounty Grand Jury. They were received by the Pittsburg County Court Clerk the following day with an order to seal. On October 14, Pittsburg County Associate District Judge Tim Mills signed a warrant issued against Ketchum and it was returned after Ketchum was arrested by the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Department.

Cantrell, a pregnant mother of three, was 40 years old when she disappeared in January 2017. She went missing after she left the McAlester Regional Health Center on her lunch break. Ketchum told investigators that he picked up Cantrell from the hospital and dropped her off at the Braum's on US Highway 69 in McAlester because she wanted to eat with friends. However, she failed to return to work and her family later reported her missing. A month later, her purse was found at the Cardinal Point Recreation Area about 11 miles north of McAlester.


Cantrell's skeletal remains were discovered in the same area one year later, and Pittsburg County Sheriff's Department opened a homicide investigation. Her exact cause of death remains unknown. According to Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris, investigators from his agency and the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office worked together on the investigation. It was later presented to the 19th Multicounty Grand Jury impaneled in Oklahoma City.

Evidence found on Ketchum's cell phone through the execution of multiple search warrants reportedly led to the indictments. According to the indictment for destroying evidence, the suspect "unlawfully and knowingly deleted text messages between himself and Holly Cantrell from his cellular device." Ketchum reportedly testified before the grand jury along with investigators from PCSO, the McAlester Police Department, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and Cantrell's family members.