Crime

His roommate was found dead in a freezer. Now he could face death in a Jackson County trial.

Jackson County sheriff's investigators were called on March 20, 2017, to a home in the Virginia City community of Latimer after someone found a body in a freezer inside a house there.
Jackson County sheriff's investigators were called on March 20, 2017, to a home in the Virginia City community of Latimer after someone found a body in a freezer inside a house there. calee@sunherald.com File

A Jackson County grand jury has indicted an Oregon native on a charge of capital murder for allegedly strangling a man, stuffing his body into an unplugged freezer and stealing his Cadillac.

Thomas Elliot Stafford, 41, is accused in the March 2017 killing of Indiana native Jerry Floyd Kirkendall Sr., 65.

A man discovered Kirkendall’s body on March 20, 2017, in the freezer inside an Althea Street home in Jackson County’s Latimer community.

Kirkendall was renting the home and Stafford had moved in.

Neighbors said they had not seen Kirkendall in about two weeks before his body was found.

Stafford is accused of killing Kirkendall during the commission of a robbery on or between March 3-20, 2017, court records say.

Sheriff’s deputies said he was last seen by his landlord on March 3.

Kirkendall’s Cadillac was stolen during the robbery and later recovered in Alabama.

According to authorities, Stafford had sold the car to a cousin for some cash and a gun.

Federal marshals arrested Stafford in Portland, Oregon, after conducting surveillance at the home of one of his associates.

After his arrest in Portland, a woman called Portland Police to report that Stafford had stayed the night at her home and had given her a gun. She turned the gun over to authorities.

Kirkendall had been living in the Jackson County home for about a month when the killing occurred.

Stafford is tentatively set to go to trial Feb. 5.

If convicted, he’s facing a penalty of up to life in prison without parole or the death sentence.

Stafford is being held without bond at the Jackson County jail.

At the time of the murder, Stafford was on probation for felony conviction of meth possession. A judge did not sentence him to any more jail time for the meth conviction for a probation violation, instead sending him back to Jackson County to face the capital murder charge here.

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

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