Murder of Rex Harper conspired by Claude Stanley Williamson spotlighted on Murder in the Wicked West

Claude Stanley Williamson mugshot
Claude Stanley Williamson was convicted of conspiring to kill Rex Harper. Pic credit: Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Murder in the Wicked West: Murder on Main Street is focusing on Rex Harper’s murder, which was planned by Claude Stanley Williamson, a former world champion cowboy.

On the afternoon of Jan. 14, 1998, Harper went to a shopping mall in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, to visit his wife of five months at her job.

As he was leaving, he was fatally gunned down in the parking lot.

Someone had fired a high-powered rifle into the windshield of the dump truck he was driving, and a single bullet struck Harper, 31, in the chest.

A city utility employee who was working nearby saw Harper jump a curb and crash into a chain link fence after hearing a gunshot.

His death was ruled a homicide, and investigators immediately believed it was a murder-for-hire scheme.

Lt. Carole Newell said, “We thought this involved a solicitation, a payoff, and a hit.”

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“We didn’t know it would be this large. The more we interviewed, the more we got into the mix of these people involved. The pieces fell together.”

Claude Stanley Williamson was a person of interest

Police learned through an investigation that Harper and his wife contacted the police after Williamson began making harassing phone calls to their home.

Broken Arrow detectives believe that Williamson was jealous that Harper was married to his ex-girlfriend, which is why he to hire a hitman.

Harper’s murder went unsolved for more than a year until detectives cracked the case.

They interviewed several witnesses who helped prove Williamson paid someone between $5,000 and $10,000 and a diamond ring to kill Harper.

Multiple people were arrested in connection with Rex Harper’s murder

Fifteen months after Harper was killed in a hit-style murder, police officials arrested six people, including Williamson and the alleged hitman, Willie Edward Hayes.

Williamson was charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation to commit murder.

He was booked into the county jail, where he was held on a $117,000 bond—$39,000 for each charge.

Hayes was also charged with murder, but prosecutors dismissed it due to a lack of evidence.

The conspiracy to commit murder charges against their four co-defendants were dropped as well.

Jury dismissed Claude Stanley Williamson’s murder charge

On October 27, 2000, a week before trial was set to begin, a jury acquitted Williamson of first-degree murder, but they found him guilty of conspiring to kill his ex-girlfriend’s husband.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

Murder in the Wicked West: Murder On Main Street airs Monday at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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