GUTHRIE, Okla. — An Oklahoma businessman and former city councilman has been accused of killing an employee in September and burying the man under a client’s septic tank.
Daniel Joseph Triplett, 66, of Guthrie, is charged with first-degree murder and desecration of a human corpse, according to authorities. He was booked Oct. 21 into the Logan County Jail, where he remained on Monday.
Triplett’s arrest came just over a month after Brent Mack, 50, was last seen alive.
Mack worked for Triplett’s septic tank installation business. Triplett also served on Guthrie’s city council in the 1980s and 1990s.
Court records show that Mack’s daughter, Raychelle Wilson, called the Guthrie Police Department on Sept. 28 to report that no one had seen or heard from her father for several days. Cellphone records showed that Mack, who makes multiple outgoing calls each day, had last spoken to his girlfriend in Texas on Sept. 20.
The calls abruptly stopped that day, according to an arrest affidavit.
‘I’ll call you later’
Wilson told investigators she had reached out to Triplett, who was her father’s boss, to find out if he knew where Mack was.
“He worked with Dan for roughly about three years, and they had kind of a love-hate situation, I would say,” Wilson told KFOR in Oklahoma City.
Over Facebook Messenger, Triplett told Wilson he had fired her father on Sept. 20 and dropped him off in front of a laundromat, Holiday Laundry, on Cleveland Street in Guthrie. Triplett said he’d given Mack $1,000 in severance pay and had not seen him since.
“Raychelle said Dan later deleted the messages he sent to her, but she provided (police) with screenshots of the messages from before they were deleted,” the affidavit states.
Read the affidavit for Dan Triplett’s arrest below.
A few days later, a couple who lives on a corner down the street from the laundromat reported finding a bag in their backyard that contained Mack’s work clothes. The wife said she had first spotted the bag, which appeared to have been tossed over the fence, on Sept. 20. She went out of town for a couple of days, and the bag was still there when she returned.
Investigators were able to obtain surveillance footage from both the laundromat and the nearby Guthrie Public Library. The video shows Triplett drive by around 7:46 p.m. on Sept. 20, but he does not stop, and Mack is not seen getting out of his vehicle outside the laundromat.
When detectives spoke to Triplett by phone, he told them Mack has last worked for him that day on a septic tank job in Crescent, according to records. He said Mack had worked for him on and off for several years, but he had decided to cut ties with the man because of his “violent demeanor.”
Triplett repeated what he’d told Wilson, that he’d given the former employee $1,000 in severance pay before parting ways. He said Mack was not upset over getting fired, and that he’d told him he was going to go to Texas to get married, the affidavit states.
Investigators spoke to Mack’s girlfriend, who told them she’d spoken to him multiple times on Sept. 20. That morning, he told her he was being picked up for work. Later in the morning, he told her he was at a job site and didn’t have good cell service.
“OK, babe, I’ll call you later,” he texted her shortly before 1 p.m.
It was the last anyone heard from him, according to the court records.
On Sept. 30, 10 days after Mack was last seen, investigators spoke to the homeowner in Crescent for whom Triplett had installed a septic tank. The man told police the tank and lines had been installed on Sept. 7 and 8, weeks before Mack vanished.
Two weeks later, on Oct. 13, Triplett was interviewed at the Guthrie Police Department, where he told varying stories about where he’d dropped Mack off the day he disappeared.
“When confronted with the inconsistencies in the story, Dan became very red-faced and appeared to be angry,” the affidavit states. “Dan was asked about other jobs and locations and Dan stated he couldn’t remember.”
A normal workday
Guthrie police detectives and agents from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at Triplett’s home, where they found business documents showing where Triplett worked, and when. The paperwork showed he was not working at the Crescent job site on Sept. 20, but instead was working at a woman’s home in nearby Mulhall.
Investigators went to the woman’s home, where her brother showed them the area of the new septic tank that had been installed Sept. 20. The officers also obtained surveillance footage of the job site.
“In the footage, it is apparent that two people arrive at the job site on (Sept. 20) in Dan’s vehicle, but only one person is seen leaving,” the affidavit states.
The footage at first shows what appears to be a normal workday for Triplett and Mack.
“You can see plastic pipe being loaded and moved from a trailer to the dug lateral lines,” an OSBI agent wrote. “You can see Dan running the backhoe, moving gravel.”
The men take a 20-minute lunch break in Triplett’s truck before returning to work.
The after-lunch footage is chilling.
Mack is seen working in the shallow part of the hole Triplett had dug for the septic tank, according to the court records. Triplett is seen working the backhoe.
The footage then shows Mack go into the hole and never come out.
“The video doesn’t show any type of physical altercation between the two men,” the agent wrote. “The video doesn’t show Brent sitting or walking around while Dan is working.”
On Oct. 21, police and staff from the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner descended on the rural home where Mack was last seen. Workers excavated down to the septic tank, removing dirt from three sides of the concrete enclosure and hoisting the tank from the ground.
The anthropologists began probing the earth underneath.
“At one point they believed they felt a body,” the affidavit states.
When they removed their probe from the ground, the tip bore the odor of decomposition.
“The dirt was slowly removed from the hole using scoops and buckets,” according to the documents. “They located a spot that was deeper than the rest of the hole and was deeper than the location of the septic tank.”
Mack’s body was discovered a few minutes later. His wallet contained his driver’s license.
His work boots were still on his feet and work gloves remained on his hands.
He had been shot once in the back, authorities said.
Triplett was taken into custody at his home. The motive for the shooting remains unclear.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Mack’s brother, Troy Franklin-Smith, told KFOR. “You took my brother. You took their dad. You took an uncle.
“But I’ll tell you, you didn’t get away with it. So you will pay the ultimate price.”
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