By: Patti Weaver
(Stillwater, Okla.) — A convicted rapist, who was released from prison two years ago, has been charged with killing a female co-worker two days after she moved into his Stillwater residence where he was already living with another woman.
Earl Oswalt Jr., 54, who remains held in the Payne County Jail on $500,000 bail pending a July 1 court appearance, could be given 20 years to life in prison if convicted of fatally attacking 29-year-old Chelsey Chaffin in the early morning of May 26, which was the day before Memorial Day.
The remains of the victim, who worked with Oswalt at a Stillwater tile company, have not been found, despite extensive searches by land, water, and air, authorities said.
Oswalt claimed that he and the other female resident of his house took the body of the victim, who was thrown over a bridge into the Cimarron River north of Ripley early on the morning of Memorial Day, Payne County Sheriff’s Investigator Rockford Brown alleged in an affidavit filed in court records.
In Payne County, Oswalt was formally charged on June 13 with second-degree murder on May 26 for allegedly causing his co-worker’s death without a premeditated design by choking her, or in the alternative with first-degree manslaughter by punching her in the head without a premeditated intent to cause her death, court records show.
According to court records, 22 years ago after Oswalt was charged with first-degree rape in Bryan County, Ok., he was found not mentally competent to stand trial and ordered to be treated at Eastern State Hospital in Vinita. About one and one-half months later, a Bryan County judge ruled that he was competent.
In 1998, Oswalt was convicted of first-degree rape by a Bryan County jury that recommended a 40-year prison term, which he served until Dec. 3, 2014, when he was released from Oklahoma on a detainer to Texas where he was apparently incarcerated on two charges of child sexual assault in Grayson County until his parole in 2017.
In Payne County two years ago, Oswalt was charged with violating the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registration Act on June 23, 2017, by residing with two teenagers, ages 13 and 15, who were not his children, after having been convicted of rape in Oklahoma and child sexual assault in Texas. Oswalt was given a six-month jail term followed by probation, which the prosecution is now seeking to revoke.
In the homicide case, Oswalt “claimed to have been drinking with Chelsey at the residence when she became enraged and threatened the other (female) resident with a glass bottle. Oswalt claims to have pulled Chelsey away from the other resident by grabbing her from behind by the throat,” the investigator’s affidavit alleged.
Oswalt claimed “Following this, Chelsey struck Oswalt in the head with a bottle causing a laceration to his eye. Oswalt told investigators Chelsey retreated down the hallway and away from him as he followed behind her,” before she came out of a bedroom naked and unarmed, the affidavit alleged.
“Oswalt stated that he struck her once in the face causing her to fall to the ground unconscious. Oswalt told (the investigator) that he does not remember what happened after he hit her, and that he could have injured her more, but did not know if he had,” the affidavit alleged.
“Oswalt told investigators that he and the (female) resident took Chelsey to the Cimarron River bridge on Highway 108, north of Ripley, in the early morning hours of Monday, May 27. Chelsey was nude, wrapped in a red blanket, and thrown over the bridge into the Cimarron River,” the affidavit alleged.
The female resident told the sheriff’s investigator that she remembers “Chelsey and Oswalt playing cards and drinking beer,” before she went to bed around 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, the affidavit alleged.
“The resident awoke to Chelsey standing over her in the bed with a bottle, and at this time Chelsey told the resident that she needed to leave the house,” which she did, the affidavit alleged. She said “Chelsey willingly moved away from her — contrary to Oswalt’s claim of using force to Chelsey’s throat,” the affidavit alleged.
She said she left at about 4:20 a.m. and “Chelsey was unharmed at this time with no visible trauma to her body,” the affidavit alleged. She said that Oswalt called her shortly before 4:38 a.m., but “she could not hear due to Chelsey yelling in the background,” the affidavit alleged.
“Oswalt picked up the resident at approximately 7:30 a.m. and was covered in blood on his head, chest and shorts along with an extremely swollen right hand,” the affidavit alleged.
When “Oswalt took her back to his house and told her to start cleaning up the blood on the living room floor” the resident saw “Chelsey lying flat on her back nude, with blood around her nose,” and appearing to be dead, the affidavit alleged.
“Oswalt told her he was going to get medical attention and she was not to call anyone nor open the door for anyone. She informed (the investigator) that Oswalt had a rule that she was never to open the door unless he was home. She said she was scared of Oswalt prior to this event and extremely scared of him once she was brought back to the house,” the affidavit alleged.
She said “she could see horizontal marks on both sides of Chelsey’s neck when she first arrived back at the house after 7:30 a.m.,” which were there when they moved her from the house in the early morning hours of Memorial Day,” the affidavit alleged.
“These marks as described are indicative of strangulation,” the affidavit alleged. “Oswalt denied strangling Chelsey and claimed these marks were from him restraining her, although this statement is not corroborated by the other resident,” the affidavit alleged.
Oswalt was arrested at 5:30 p.m. on June 3 as a suspect in the woman’s slaying, the affidavit said.