Digging Deeper into the Oklahoma Innocent Man Project: 1975 Murders of Martin, Rosenbaum, and Oakley
In 2006, the highly talented author John Grisham wrote a true crime book that depicts the story of an Oklahoma man named Ronald Keith Williamson who was wrongly convicted of an Ada, Oklahoma murder in 1988. Moreover, the book (and the highly addictive Netflix series) discusses the abductions and murders of Denise Haraway, as well as the convictions of Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot.
Admittedly, at the time I watched the Netflix series, I had not read Grisham's book. Honestly, I didn't even know that the "innocent man" to which the title referred was indeed Williamson. (Side Note: I also believe it refers to Grisham's opinion that Ward and Fontenot are innocent and wrongfully convicted, though they have not been exonerated.) Last month (December, 2018), I wrapped Christmas presents as I began watching the series.
I didn't even have to be fully focused on the show to realize that there was, at least in the 1980's, a serious issue with injustice in the state of Oklahoma. For whatever reason, my brain focused on Thomas Ward. I truly believe that Ward is innocent.
Since I had previously volunteered my time to research and analyze a local cold case that involved an abduction and, most likely, a murder, I decided that I would look into Thomas Ward and the crime of which he was convicted. In doing so, I had to look at all similar crimes that happened in the immediate area within the same decade. What I found absolutely floored me.
Follow along as I explain, if you will:
Geraldine Martin, Marian Rosenbaum, and Suzanne Oakley (1975)
Geraldine Martin was abducted on February 5, 1975, from the parking lot of Tulsa Junior College after a night class. Her body was found about two to three weeks later in a vacant Tulsa apartment. On April 25, 1975, Marian Rosenbaum’s body was found in a wooded area. She had been abducted from a convenience store parking lot after her friends dropped her off. She had just gotten off of work as a dancer at an East Tulsa night club. On August 27, 1975, Suzanne Oakley went jogging at a trail adjacent to the road on which her apartment was located. She was found deceased near the jogging trail.
Signature Behavior & MO
In all three attacks, the level of injury was excessive. Martin’s body had been mutilated (her nipples were cut off and one was inserted into her vagina, though the other was never found.) She was beaten, raped twice, strangled, and stabbed. As an act of humiliation, the killer left Martin nude. As a further act of disrespect, the killer shoved her body into a closet. Rosenbaum was choked, raped, and stabbed 65 times. She was nearly decapitated from stab wounds, and her body was left partially or fully nude. Her nipples were also cut off. Oakley had been trampled, strangled with her own bra, and raped.
In all three cases, the attacker was a sadistic rapist. He achieved sexual satisfaction through physically and mentally torturing his victims. Martin and Rosenbaum both had their nipples cut off. This type of rapist usually focuses on victim’s genitals as an area to cause injury. Furthermore, sadistic rapists are commonly known to use objects to rape their victims. Dismemberment is also an act common for such attackers.
The attacker chose his victims on an opportunistic basis. He kidnapped Martin and Rosenbaum, but the location of Oakley’s attack made it “unsafe” for the attacker to take her elsewhere. The Martin and Rosenbaum attacks were calculated and premeditated. The attacker likely had a similar plan for Oakley, but again, the location hindered the attack. Another sign that the attacker is a sadistic rapist is the fact that age does not specifically matter. All women were younger, but Rosenbaum was 16, whereas Martin was 28 and Oakley was 24.
The attacker’s MO is the same in the first two cases, and I believe it only slightly differs in Oakley’s case because of the location and the killer’s fear of being seen. However, the locality of all three crimes involves the same area. Oakley was found within 5 miles of Geraldine Martin, and Geraldine Martin was found within 10 miles of Marian Rosenbaum.
Clyde Wilkerson was charged with Martin’s death. He was suspected of the murders of Rosenbaum and Oakley, though he was never charged. Without a doubt, the same person is responsible for all three of these crimes.
© 2019 Kerri Rowland