Oklahoma Highway Patrol

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol search the Cimarron River on Thursday for Chelsey Chaffin, who investigators believe was killed and dumped in the river. 

Earl Oswalt, accused of killing Chelsey Chaffin, was arraigned Thursday afternoon in Payne County District Court. He was not officially charged, but had his bond set at $500,000.

Oswalt appeared in court via video conference form Payne County Jail with Special District Judge Michael Kulling. Oswalt’s first words to the court as a man accused of a homicide were an unorthodox “How ya doing, judge?”

Kulling replied simply, “I’m good,” before explaining to Oswalt why he was ruling the State had probable cause to continue the case.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation said its investigators believe Oswalt killed Chelsey Chaffin only days after she had moved into his home, some time in the early hours of May 26. They claim Oswalt then disposed of her body in the Cimarron River.

Kulling said he had read the probable cause affidavit filed by the Payne County Sheriff’s Office, which had not been filed with the Court Clerk because official charges have yet to be filed.

Assistant District Attorney Debbie Vincent said the office was holding off filing the charge until it could determine the “degree of homicide,” meaning the level of offense from manslaughter to first-degree murder.

The DA’s office also made a motion to revoke a suspended sentence stemming from a 2017 violation of the sex offender registry. In June 2017, shortly after being released from prison in Texas on a rape sentence, Oswalt was charged and later found guilty in Payne County District Court of violating the registry by living in a house with children he was not related to.

For that offense, he received a three-year sentence with all but six months suspended. Bond was set at $50,000 in that case.

Oswalt, who did not have a lawyer present, was given paperwork for indigent defense and is expect to make his next court appearance June 13 with a court-appointed attorney.

State law enforcement officials have not reported finding a body in the Cimarron River since the search for Chaffin began. OSBI enlisted the help of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s boating units for the search.

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