The Pryor Times

April 13, 2011

Convicted murder up for parole after 34 years

Melissa McClendon
Staff Reporter

— Larry Leon Chaney has been serving life for first degree murder in the death’s of Kendal Gaither Ashmore, 35, and her horse trainer Kathy Brown, 21, on March 17, 1977. Thirty-four years later on March 22, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended to commuting Chaney’s sentence from life to 85 years, then 90 days in a community-level work release program, then parole to the street. Chaney could be paroled if Gov. Mary Fallin gives her approval.

Chaney, who was convicted of the murders in September 1977, was initially sentenced to death but the sentence was overturned on Dec. 10, 1984.

Ashmore, a 1957 Miss Pryor and 1959 graduate of Pryor High School, was the daughter of former Pryor Jeffersonian Publisher Haskell Gaither. Married and living in Tulsa in 1977, Ashmore was a horse breeder. According to a case filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, on the morning of March 17, she and her horse trainer, Kathy Brown, went to meet a man who had expressed an interest in Morgan horses.

That evening when her husband, Phillip Ashmore, came home, Kendal had not returned.

By 6 p.m. that evening, Ashmore received call telling him his wife and Brown had been kidnapped. The caller demanded $500,000 in $100 bills and warned the man not to tell anyone about the call.

Ashmore called his attorney who contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The next day, Ashmore gathered the ransom money. He received another call from the kidnapper instructing him to leave the money at a specified location at a local rodeo arena or “his wife would be dead.” According to the case file, the caller also told him where Kendal Ashmore’s truck was located. That call was traced to Chaney’s home phone.

Ashmore delivered the money to the predetermined location at the rodeo grounds. Later the same day, he received a call telling him that the money had not been left in the proper place, that he should pick up the money and try again the next day. The caller also threatened to do bodily harm to his wife. This call was traced to a phone booth at a service station. Chaney’s palm print was taken from the receiver handle on the phone.

Records show after the second call, the police set up surveillance of Chaney’s home, which was two miles from the rodeo grounds where the money was to be left. At 3:20 a.m., the police arrested Chaney and searched his home. The bodies of Kendal Ashmore and Kathy Brown were later found in a shallow grave on property rented by Chaney near Sallisaw.