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Pott. County case update: Wanette man jailed in father’s murder

Kim Morava
The Shawnee News-Star

A Wanette man that deputies say has confessed to shooting and killing his father in a hay field and then setting a fire is jailed in Pottawatomie County on a murder complaint.

Jake Ryan Nelson

According to Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center records, Jake Ryan Nelson, 28, is jailed without bond on complaints of first-degree murder, first-degree arson, malicious injury or destruction to property, attempted escape from arrest, possession of a firearm after former conviction and desecration of a human corpse.  Formal charges have not been filed.

Nelson was arrested in the death of his father, Karl W. Nelson, 53, of the Asher/Wanette area, said Undersheriff Travis Palmer.

While the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office and medical examiner on Tuesday recovered remains believed to be Nelson, Palmer said they will have to await confirmation of a positive identification by the state medical examiner.

The human remains were recovered from a burned hay bale in a field after Nelson allegedly confessed to shooting and killing his father and then setting fire to a tractor, hay baler and hay bales in south Pottawatomie County.

Events leading up to this investigation started Monday. That’s when Wanette and Tribbey firefighters responded to the scene of a tractor and hay field on fire, Palmer said, although there was no tractor driver there at the scene.

Fire crews extinguished the tractor and hay bale fire, Palmer said, and were helpful to deputies in the investigation by explaining the way the hay bales were arranged with the tractor didn’t look right. A search of the area commenced for the tractor driver.

Jake Nelson, the tractor operator’s son, had apparently been helping bale hay, Palmer said, and was seen pulling out of the area on another tractor. 

Jake Nelson was located and was initially taken into custody for investigative questioning in the case, but he allegedly became upset and knocked out the window of a sheriff’s patrol unit, the undersheriff said, resulting in his arrest on a complaint of destruction of county property. 

When deputies questioned Jake Nelson Tuesday morning, Palmer said he allegedly confessed to shooting his father in the head and then pouring gasoline on the tractor, baler and hay bales before setting a fire.

Palmer said a specialist in human bones from the Medical Examiner’s office confirmed a presence of remains and the recovery process began at the fire scene, which was located in an area southwest of SH 102 and Avoca Road. 

Palmer said authorities were able to recover all the remains Tuesday and are awaiting the formal identification from dental records.

Palmer said deputies did discover two guns on Jake Nelson upon his arrest, and they do believe one of those is the murder weapon in this case.

Investigators still don’t have a motive for the homicide, but the suspect has had previous issues with drugs, Palmer said.

The investigation has included many agencies and everyone working together, Palmer said. As part of the initial search for the tractor driver, Palmer said Shawnee Fire Chief Rodney Foster, who is also helping with county emergency management efforts, coordinated a horseback search and rescue team from the Chickasaw Nation, which was helpful to deputies working the scene.

Case reports from the investigation will be turned over to District Attorney Allan Grubb’s office for consideration of formal charges.

Watch for updates.