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'Cold Justice' Helps Lead To Arrest Of Person Of Interest In 2007 Murder

Tommy Whetzell, a long-time person of interest in the 2007 murder of Ricky Luebbert, has been arrested after a renewed investigation into the case with help from Oxygen True Crime's "Cold Justice."

A police handout of Tommy Whetzell

Oxygen True Crime's “Cold Justice” has helped make another break in a cold case. A suspect is now in custody for a 2007 Missouri murder, which is set to be featured on an upcoming episode of the show.

“This morning, the Texas County Sheriff's department arrested Tommy Whetzell in connection with the 2007 murder of Ricky Luebbert,” the “Cold Justice” team stated in a Wednesday press release. 

Ricky Luebbert, 42, was murdered on Nov. 10, 2007 at his home in Texas County, near Tyrone, according to a press release provided to Oxygen.com by the Texas County Sheriff’s Office. His body was found three days later by a neighbor, per a 2007 Houston Herald story.

At the time, Whetzell, now 63, was identified as a person of interest. In turn, he was charged and convicted of a federal weapons violation but he was never charged in connection with the murder itself. 

That all changed after the Texas County Sheriff's Office opened a new investigation into the Luebbert case in January. 

“The sheriff's office was aided with resources from the television program ‘Cold Justice,’” the press release stated. Investigators from the sheriff's office reviewed the original case files and evidence. Based on that information, investigators conducted new interviews of witnesses and a suspect, and had additional analysis performed on evidence in the case.”

The new investigative efforts, as well as the prior ones, led to an indictment for first degree murder, armed criminal action, and discharge of a firearm at or from a motor vehicle for Whetzell. He was arrested on Wednesday by the Barton County Sheriff's Office at his home in Liberal, Missouri. He has been transported back to Texas County

"Today represents an important step in seeking justice for the murder of Ricky Luebbert,” Texas County Sheriff Scott Lindsey said in a statement on Wednesday.I hope that this arrest is of some comfort to the family of the victim, even though it has taken 14-plus years to reach this point. I would like to commend all the investigators that worked on this case, but especially the deputies that were assigned to re-open the investigation and approached it with dedication and perseverance. I would also like to thank the staff and resources provided by ‘Cold Justiceto assist with the investigation.” 

Whetzell was has been ordered held in the Texas County Jail without bond. It’s not clear if he has an attorney.

“Nearly 15 years later there is justice for Ricky’s brother Randy and his two boys,” the “Cold Justice” team stated in their press release. “This is all possible due to the hard work of the Texas County Sheriff's department and the assistance of Steve Spingola and Kelly Siegler. Our experts Eric Devlin, Kathy Pinneri, and the 'Cold Justice' team worked incredibly hard to support the investigation team.”

They added, “This is our second arrests this season and I could not be more proud.”

“Cold Justice” has contributed to more than 50 arrests in cold cases around the U.S. The show’s efforts have also assisted in numerous guilty verdicts, including the 2019 conviction of Robin Mendez, who bludgeoned his wife to death in 1982 at her credit union job in Wisconsin.

Among some of the other more recent successes, “Cold Justice” was credited with breaking a cold case in Colorado that saw Jesse Hogue arrested for allegedly murdering his ex-wife in 1994.

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