Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Cathouse Murders

Denny Edward Phillips—a troubled past

Denny Edward Phillips
Denny Edward Phillips
On Monday, April 26, 2010, Denny Edward Phillips, 32, the previously unnamed person of interest in the case, was being sought for the burglary of a Tulsa police detective's home in which guns, a Tulsa police uniform, badges, and other items were stolen. When cornered by Tulsa police officers outside a motel, Phillips, reportedly no relation to Brooke Phillips, allegedly pointed a gun at them and was shot three times, once in the chest and twice in the abdomen. He was hospitalized in critical condition, but survived his injuries.

"He has a history of committing crimes, with a long criminal record behind him, and was a cage fighter like the other guy they already arrested," Gary Gardner, Barrera's stepfather, told "My daughter and her unborn baby, along with the other victims, deserve justice."

According to Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, Denny Phillips had been identified as a person of interest in the investigation into the six homicides of November 9, 2009, early in the case. Prater stated in an e-mail to his employees issued prior to the police shootout with Phillips that Phillips was "a very dangerous person who ordered the hits on six people in south Oklahoma City," and that Phillips had reason "to target some associates" in the Oklahoma City area. Prater said that he had issued the warning to his employees because of concerns that Phillips might use the stolen uniform and badges in order to pose as a Tulsa police officer, presumably because of the items stolen from the Tulsa police detective's home.

A subsequent search of the motel room where Phillips had been staying turned up two guns that had been reported stolen from the Tulsa police detective's home. Phillips was not initially charged in the burglary of the detective's home, but the investigation was continuing.

Phillips had spent much of his adult life incarceratedhe was 18 when he was first sent to prison. Phillips' criminal history included 1996 convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and other crimes, including a jail escape. In the assault conviction, he stabbed a male in the shoulder with a belt-buckle knife and pleaded guilty to the charge. He was released in May 2007 after spending nearly 11 years in prison.

Following his release from prison, Phillips took up cage fighting. In January 2010, he was arrested in Mayes County, Okla., during a traffic stop in which officers reportedly found a stolen .40-caliber handgun, along with ingredients that could be used to manufacture methamphetamine. After the traffic stop, an officer reported that Phillips had received text messages on his cell phone in which someone wrote, "need a half, will pay you Monday." Phillips admitted possessing a handgun at the time because, he claimed, he had been threatened by someone.

He was charged in January 2010 in Mayes County District Court as a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, a violation of his parole. Related to the shootout with police in April, Phillips was charged on Thursday, May 20, 2010, with possession of a firearm and of feloniously pointing a firearm at police officer in an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa.


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