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Press Release

Suspect Arrested in Arson on Kickapoo Land

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Oklahoma
Two Bodies Found in Trailer Home

OKLAHOMA CITY – DESMA VALDEZ, 19, of Lincoln County, has been arrested for arson in connection with a house fire in Indian country, announced U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Downing.

According to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint filed on December 31, 2019, Valdez deliberately set fire to a trailer home on tribal land of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma.  The affidavit alleges that Valdez was staying in the trailer home with two individuals whose burned bodies were found inside.  An investigation into the cause of death is underway.  The case is charged in federal court because the alleged crime took place in Indian country and Valdez is an Indian.

Valdez was injured as a result of the fire and was transported to a local hospital.  She was arrested upon her release from the hospital on January 1 and made her initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary M. Purcell.

If found guilty, Valdez faces a maximum potential penalty of life in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000, and mandatory restitution.

This case is a result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation—Oklahoma City Division; the Kickapoo Tribal Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Stoneman and Thomas B. Snyder are prosecuting the case.

The public is reminded that this charge is merely an allegation and that Valdez is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Reference is made to public filings for more information.  To download a photo of U.S. Attorney Downing, click here.


Updated January 3, 2020

Indian Country Law and Justice