A suspect has finally been named in the investigation into the suspicious death of a Woodward man found dead in his apartment earlier this year.

After submitting the case file to the Woodward County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday morning, police detectives Chuck Wheeler and Billy Parker announced that their investigation identified Dore Vanhorn as the suspect allegedly responsible for the death of Steven Studdard, 46.

Vanhorn was Studdard’s “live-in girlfriend” at the time Studdard was found dead as a result of a stab wound to his chest on Feb. 16, Wheeler said.

The stabbing allegedly occurred after the two “had been fighting all day” the day before, Wheeler said.

“They had been in a physical altercation several times through out the day,” he said, noting that the two had also “been consuming alcohol at the bar.”

In fact, “the altercation started at the bar,” Wheeler said, noting that “it carried over after they got home.”

The altercation, which was said to be about money, began as a verbal confrontation but “escalated to a physical confrontation, where the deceased was choking her, knocking her down to the ground and pulling her hair,” he said.

Vanhorn then attempted to escape the situation, Wheeler said, but Studdard allegedly followed and continued to attack her outside.

“He had her down by a vehicle in the parking lot,” the detective said, noting that is when “she stabbed him once with a knife.”

Vanhorn allegedly obtained the steak knife as she was leaving the apartment, Wheeler said, noting that the couple was supposedly using the knife to secure a broken lock on the door to their apartment.

After Vanhorn allegedly stabbed Studdard, Wheeler said “he released her and she got up and ran out of the parking lot.”

A neighbor in the apartment complex witnessed part of the altercation, which occurred around 2:30 a.m. Feb. 16, Parker said.

However, he said the neighbor didn’t contact the police because she left her window to retrieve some eyeglasses and by the time she returned to the window, the altercation was over and she could no longer see either Studdard or Vanhorn.

But as Vanhorn ran out of the parking lot, other witnesses heard her screaming and contacted the police about a suspicious woman running down the street screaming, Wheeler said.

“The police were called around 2:40 a.m.,” Parker said, noting that they arrived on scene around 2:50 a.m.

The responding police officers made contact with Vanhorn, but when she was uncooperative, sheriff’s officers arrested her for public intoxication, Wheeler said.

In later interviews with Vanhorn, he said she admitted to being uncooperative with police officers, claiming she did so in attempt to protect Studdard, allegedly saying she didn’t want him to get in trouble.

After being taken to jail, Vanhorn contacted her mother, Wheeler said, noting that Vanhorn asked her mother to retrieve her purse from her apartment. It was when Vanhorn’s mother went to the apartment around 11 a.m. that Studdard’s body was discovered, the detective said.

It seems Studdard was able to return back to his apartment on his own before succumbing to his injury, Wheeler said.

Despite claiming that Vanhorn has confessed to stabbing Studdard, Wheeler said as of yet, no charges have been filed against Vanhorn and no arrest has been made.

“We took it up today for the District Attorney’s office to review the case file to make the final determination whether charges will be filed or not,” he said.

But because it is such a large case file, it could take the District Attorney’s office a while to make that determination, according to Assistant District Attorney A. J. Laubhan.

However, Laubhan said they could have a decision “within a couple of weeks.”

Whatever the decision, though, Wheeler said he is pleased with the outcome of the investigation, which was done in cooperation with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

“We feel like we’ve solved the case,” he said. “And hopefully we can give some closure to the deceased’s family. . . that’s the main thing.”

Trending Video

Recommended for you