Tulsa teen charged in mother's beating death
BY AMANDA BLAND & KENDRICK MARSHALL World Staff Writers
Thursday, January 24, 2013
1/24/13 at 9:49 AM
Correction: A Thursday Tulsa World story used an incorrect name for the Special Operations Team. This story has been corrected.
A 17-year-old who is accused in the beating death of his mother was arrested by Tulsa police Wednesday.
Henry David Laird:
Henry David "Hank" Laird surrendered peacefully to officers at a Tulsa residence, Officer Jill Roberson said.
Police say a person in custody said he saw the teen use the butt end of a shotgun to hit his mother.
Laird was charged with first-degree murder Wednesday morning in connection with the death of Linda Laird.
Linda Laird, 56, was found dead at the base of a staircase in her home in the 7400 block of South Urbana Avenue on Tuesday morning.
Police received a tip Wednesday morning that Hank Laird was at a house in the 5600 block of South Boston Avenue, Roberson said. During a vehicle stop in the area about 2 p.m., officers were able to confirm that he was in the house.
The Police Department's Special Operations Team was called in as a precaution, but Laird surrendered to officers without incident, Roberson said.
Investigators had not determined the relationship between Hank Laird and the residents of that home, she said. An arrest report, however, indicates that he had said earlier that he was going to his grandmother's house.
"We are just thankful we have him (Laird) in custody," Roberson said. "There has already been one tragedy out of this. We definitely did not want another one."
Linda Laird's parents told police that her son was at the Lairds' house when they arrived and found her body Tuesday morning, police have said. Hank Laird reportedly fled with another person before police arrived.
A family member told the Tulsa World on Wednesday that Linda Laird's parents spoke to her on Monday night and went to check on her after she didn't answer the phone Tuesday morning.
Detectives arrested Josiah Israel Sklar on a complaint of first-degree murder about 2 a.m. Wednesday after he was questioned in connection with the death, according to Sklar's arrest report.
A witness had told police that Sklar sent him text messages saying he'd witnessed the killing and asking for a ride, a homicide detective wrote.
Sklar told detectives that he saw Hank Laird hit his mother in the head with the butt of a shotgun approximately 20 times, the report states.
Linda Laird still showed signs of life after the beating, Sklar told police, but he said he didn't call emergency responders for help because he was afraid of Hank Laird, even though Hank Laird had "passed out after beating the victim," according to the arrest report.
Sklar "provided a pillow for the victim ... and then went back to sleep in a back room," according to the report.
He said he and Hank Laird went to Saint Francis Hospital for one to two hours after Linda Laird's parents arrived at the house, Sklar told police. Detectives said they didn't know why the teens went to the hospital.
Sklar and Hank Laird then parted at the Starbucks at 5984 S. Yale Ave., according to Sklar, and Laird later called Sklar from the Starbucks to tell him he was going to his grandparents' house.
An arrest warrant was issued for Hank Laird late Tuesday.
A family friend of Linda Laird's who met her and her husband, David Laird, in the 1980s, described her as dependable and friendly. He said he and his wife wrote a letter of recommendation when the Lairds applied to adopt Hank Laird as an infant.
Linda Laird worked in the energy industry, and her husband died of a heart attack in 2006, the friend said.
Some factors indicate that she may have had trouble with her son before.
A misdemeanor charge of violating the Compulsory Education Act was filed against Linda Laird in March 2008. The case was dismissed the following January because authorities were unable to locate her, court records show.
Floyd Bruntzel, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 35 years, said neighbors he talked to at the scene Tuesday said the son "had been kind of unruly."
Bruntzel said he didn't know the family himself but that the neighborhood is quiet and doesn't see much crime.
"I feel very safe here," he said.
Bill Carter, who lives next door to the Lairds, said Linda Laird was a good neighbor and that he and his wife were sad to hear how she died.
"She was a fine neighbor," Carter said. "It was a tragedy."
World Staff Writer Jarrel Wade contributed to this story.
Original Print Headline: Son charged in mom's death
Amanda Bland 918-581-8413 Kendrick Marshall 918-581-8386
Henry David Laird
Tulsa Police stand outside a home in the 5600 block of South Boston Avenue in Tulsa on Wednesday. Henry Laird surrendered to police there on Wednesday afternoon. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World