Keel returned to face murder charge

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Lynn Keel is escorted by officers Friday into the Nash County Sheriff's Office in Nashville.


Staff Writer

Saturday, March 23, 2019

NASHVILLE — A Nash County man wanted on a charge of first-degree murder of his wife is behind bars in Nashville.

Lynn Keel, 57, was brought to the Nash County Sheriff’s Office for booking late Friday afternoon after he was extradited from Arizona, where he had been apprehended by state troopers on Sunday just outside Tucson.

Keel is due on Tuesday morning for a first appearance in District Court in Nashville in connection with the slaying of his wife, Diana, 38.

Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said during a news conference Friday that he personally went to the Grand Canyon State to bring Lynn Keel back because the Sheriff’s Office is responsible for bringing him back to justice.

“The people of Nash County have put me in a position to take care of the safety of the people of Nash County,” Stone said. “And that’s what I do.”

Stone made clear the probe remains in the preliminary stages, saying, “I feel like we have got a lot of work ahead of us. We have got a killer off the streets, which is a good thing, but we’ve still got a lot of investigations to go into this.”

News organizations in Raleigh were reporting numerous weapons were seized from the Keel residence in the Momeyer area of rural Nash County.

Stone, asked at the news conference whether he thinks any of those weapons were possibly tied to Diana Keel’s death, replied, “I don’t think the murder resulted from gunfire.”

Questioned about knives and swords having been found, Stone said tests are being run.

“It’s still an open investigation,” Stone said. “And we’re in the process of trying to sort all that out at this time.” 

Stone has previously said Diana Keel’s body was found with stab wounds.

Additionally, Stone remained firm on Friday evening in stating the motive for Diana Keel’s death remains under investigation.

At the same time, Stone said of the work of his investigators, “I feel very confident in the case that they’ve built.” Stone emphasized his office would never go to a magistrate and obtain a warrant against a person his office was unsure of.

Stone on Friday said he believes there is a key piece of alleged evidence in the case against Lynn Keel but declined to elaborate.

Diana Keel was reported missing on March 9. Her body was discovered in a wooded area on March 12 by a state transportation worker in the Leggett area of rural Edgecombe County. On March 15, a warrant for Lynn Keel’s arrest was issued.

Stone said Keel, who was brought back to Nash County on a private jet Friday, didn’t comment about the case but was calm in his demeanor and spoke about the drive from Nash County to Arizona.

“He told me that he stopped periodically. He drove 65 mph the whole way. And it was three days of driving,” Stone said.

As for what Keel’s plan was beyond just driving, Stone said, “He was going further west” but said he didn’t get into more details with Keel.

Stone was a longtime state trooper before being elected Nash County’s top lawman in 2014. Stone said he had known Keel in the past.

“He worked at a gun store here. He was a machinist. He was a gunsmith — and I knew him through that,” Stone said.

A question in the aftermath of the death of Diana Keel has been the circumstances surrounding the 2006 death of Lynn Keel’s first wife, Bess Keel, 42. Bess Keel reportedly died of head trauma after accidentally falling on steps at the same residence where Lynn and Diana Keel lived.

Stone on Friday said the Sheriff’s Office has received the first reports given to it in 2006 and said his investigators have looked at them.

“I’ve been in communications with the pathologist at that time — and that’s about as far as we’ve gotten,” Stone said. “What we’re trying to do is finish up one investigation before we embark on another.”

Later in the news conference, when asked again about the subject, Stone said plans are to interview the pathologist and said investigators are going to look at the details and go before the district attorney.

As for the possibility Lynn Keel could be facing additional charges, Stone said, “Definitely.”