Cold case solved: Men arrested in 14-year-old Lincoln County murder

TROY, Mo. – Nearly 15 years after the crime, investigators in Lincoln County have cracked a cold case murder.

Approximately 18 months ago, Lincoln County Sheriff John Cottle assigned a cold case detective the murder of Byron Owens.

Owens was shot five times and killed near Truxton in April 2004. His body was found dumped at the edge of a creek near Highway DD. A handgun was recovered from the creek.

There did not appear to be any one piece of evidence or new clue turned. But on Tuesday, detectives acquired first-degree warrants for 57-year-old Daniel Russell and 36-year-old Joseph Harrell.

In court documents, witnesses recalled that Owens and Russell were involved in a theft together. Russell believed Owens snitched.

Russell told people he was going to kill Owens the night of the murder. Russell allegedly burned his clothes after the shooting and had to take a bath to clean off the blood splatter. A spent cartridge casing recovered from Harrell’s home matched the murder weapon and the gun belonged to Harrel, court documents said.

A witness told investigators Harrell bought a car just prior to the murders saying he wanted it for “something special. The car disappeared after the murders and has never been recovered.

Russell, who was due to be released from prison Tuesday on an unrelated drug offense, was apprehended earlier in the morning. Harrell was arrested at his home in Warrenton.

Both Russell and Harrell were charged with first-degree murder. Their bonds were set at $500,000 cash-only.

Daniel Russell and Joseph Harrell