A Tulsa woman admitted Friday to strangling a female victim, causing her death, then attempting to set the victim’s body and residence on fire to conceal the crime, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.
Jessica Lavon McBride, 30, of Tulsa, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Indian Country and attempt to commit arson.
“Jessica McBride stayed in the home of the victim, and in return, she took her life because of missing food stamps,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “My office and our law enforcement partners at the Tulsa Police Department and FBI will continue to hold perpetrators, like McBride, accountable for their criminal acts.”
The victim, Tracy Russell, had previously allowed the defendant and her boyfriend to stay with her in exchange for assistance with groceries but at a later time, requested the two leave her Tulsa residence.
In her plea agreement, McBride admitted to returning to the residence and killing the victim by strangulation on March 17, 2019. McBride said she committed the crime during a heated argument that started when she accused the victim of stealing her food stamps. Those claims were never substantiated.
In an effort to destroy evidence, McBride admitted that she covered the victim with a blanket and attempted to set the victim’s body and residence on fire. Her attempt failed, and McBride made plans to return, asking another individual to assist in setting the place on fire.
That individual reported the crime and McBride’s plan to authorities on March 20, 2019. That night, the individual and an undercover investigator picked up McBride and drove to the victim’s residence. McBride exited the vehicle carrying a plastic bag, which was later found to contain gas camp fuel and lighter fluid, and entered the residence through a window with the intention of setting the place on fire. Tulsa police officers then directed McBride out of the residence and took her into custody. Officers also recovered the victim’s body.
The Tulsa Police Department and FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas E. Buscemi and Robert T. Raley are prosecuting the case.