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45 years later, family still hoping for answers in Marine's mysterious death

Posted at 10:39 PM, Nov 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-05 23:45:12-05

TULSA — A Tulsa family is still searching for answers 45 years after their loved one was brutally killed. 

The young man named Rickey Bickerstaff was serving in the Marines at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina when he was bludgeoned to death. 

The family never has been told what happened.

Rickey’s brother Ron and sister-in-law Jeanette don’t often come to his grave site, because it’s a painful place to visit.

“They even found my mom once, laying across his grave out here. That's how bad she was," Ron Bickerstaff said. 

Back in December of 1973, Ron and his family were told Rickey was hit over the head and killed, his body found in a storage closet at the camp.

Ron tells us, "The next morning at formation his car was in the parking lot and he wasn't in formation. So they sent some people out looking for him. One of the Marines opened up that closet, and there he was."

2 Works for You read through the medical examiner’s report and it shows the cause of death as “apparent homicide” from “injuries sustained from apparent blows to the head by blunt instrument.”

Ron remembers the last time he saw his brother. Rickey was the best man at his wedding.

“October the 5th he was there, December the 6th he was murdered, and I strongly use the word murdered," Bickerstaff said.

Ron and his family tried to move on after years of no information. Ron’s parents have since died and he’s accepted the idea that he’d never know who killed his brother or why until recently.

“If I don't pursue what happened to him, it's not going to get done," Ron said.

Ron and his wife submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service or NCIS and got a letter back.

The letter states that the search of records came up “negative” for any information involving Rickey’s death or investigation but that they can “appeal” the request.

“I don't think he'll (Rickey) be able to rest in peace until we do," Jeanette said. 

Here at 2 Works for You, we submitted a FOIA request with Camp Lejeune but were told anything regarding a criminal investigation would be forwarded back to NCIS.

So far, KJRH has not gotten a response back. 

To the family’s knowledge, there’s never been a suspect named or an investigation into what happened.

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