North Carolina man arrested for murdering wife; police to re-examine first wife’s death

Rexford Lynn Keel, Jr., 57, was arrested for the murder of his second wife, prompting investigators to re-examine the 2006 death of his first wife, which was originally ruled an accident. Photo courtesy Nash County Sheriff's Office

March 18 (UPI) — A North Carolina man has been arrested for the murder of his second wife, prompting police to re-examine the death of his first wife in 2006, authorities said.

Rexford Lynn Keel, Jr., 57, was arrested at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, during a traffic stop on Interstate 10 near Tucson, Arizona, the Nash County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Facebook.

Keel’s arrest brings to an end a multi-state manhunt for a man police have sought since late last week in connection to the death of his wife, Diana Alejandra Keel, 38, whose body was found by a state transportation worker about 30 miles away from her North Carolina home, four days after her family reported her missing March 9.

Keel had been questioned by police Tuesday concerning her disappearance but was released.

Then on Wednesday, her death was ruled a homicide following an autopsy. Keel could not be found for further questioning.

Nash County, North Carolina, Sheriff Keith Stone said during a press conference Sunday that based on preliminary findings the mother of two had died of multiple stab wounds, WRAL reported.

“My heart goes out to Diana Keel’s family,” Stone said, referring to her two children, a 10-year-old son and an 18-year-old daughter. “What a sad and traumatic experience this is.”

Stone said the arrest was made following a tip having been called in to authorities that Keel was seen traveling west on the interstate.

“I am just glad we got a killer off the road and brought some closure to this case,” Stone said.

Keel was taken to Pima County Jail in Tucson. He has been charged with first-degree murder.

But his arrest has prompted authorities to take a closer look at the 2006 death of Keel’s first wife, Bess Keel, whose death from a fall was ruled by a medical examiner as “accidental.”

She had died after falling and hitting her head on the corner of concrete steps out front of her house.

“We’re going to work all the leads on that, and we’re going to go back and look at the information we had on the first incident reports,” Stone said. “We’re going to talk with the District Attorney’s office. It’s something that we need to be looking at.”

Detectives will be working with the FBI and other local law enforcement officials as they investigate the two murders.

Keel will be transferred to North Carolina on Monday.


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