The Woodward News

December 20, 2013

Board says no to parole

Rowynn Ricks
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Despite moving on to the second stage of the parole consideration process, Stephen W. Arfstrom will remain in prison for at least another 3 years.

Arfstrom was convicted of murder in the 1984 strangling death of 20-year-old Lisa Knott.  For his sentence, he received life with the possibility of parole. Arfstrom first became eligible for parole in 1998, but he was denied and every 3 years since he has reapplied.

And each time, Knott's parents Clara Jane and Gerald Alexander mounted a letter writing campaign and made written appeals for his parole to be denied yet again.

This year was the sixth time Arfstrom applied for parole, with his hearing slated for the November docket of the Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board.  During that hearing, the Pardon and Parole Board decided for the first time to pass Arfstrom's parole request on to the second stage of consideration.

The Alexanders became nervous that their daughter's killer was getting closer to being released from incarceration.  So they launched another letter writing campaign and made additional appeals to the Parole Board to deny Arfstrom's release.

Clara Jane Alexander said she and her husband even appeared before the Parole Board on Dec. 2 as part of the board's December docket meeting to make their pleas directly to the board members.

Since then the couple has been anxiously awaiting to hear how the Parole Board voted.  Clara Jane Alexander said she had been calling the board's offices every day for the past week trying to learn Arfstrom's fate.

"I'll tell you we were getting so worried because we were not able to find out the results," Clara Jane Alexander said.  "Then when we finally did find out yesterday (Wednesday) evening that he'd been denied, it felt just like a load had been lifted off of our shoulders."

"I feel like Clara Jane, that it was a miracle that they denied him this time and that a big, heavy load was just lifted away," Gerald Alexander said.

"We've had our prayers answered, that's for sure," Clara Jane Alexander said.

She said she believes that the community support in their letter writing campaigns played a big part in helping to get Arfstrom's parole denied.

"All the letters did a lot of good," she said, noting "we appreciate all the people who did write letters.  One of the parole guys said the board had received 161 letters, and we feel like that was pretty good."

The Alexanders said they know their battle to keep Arfstrom in prison is not completely over, but they're going to enjoy knowing he will have to serve at least another 3 years.

"We'll have to fight this and go through the whole rigamarole again, but right now it's a big relief," Gerald Alexander said.

"We're just glad to have it all over for a while," Clara Jane Alexander said.