LOCUST GROVE, Okla. - It's been almost 10 years since a Green Country family was headed to their grandparents' home to celebrate Christmas, but were met with the unthinkable.
Every year when the leaves start to fall in Locust Grove, the sun shines through the trees right above Jack and Elaine Denney's old home.
"I remember the day was a really pretty day," said their granddaughter Lyndsey Keener.
It tells her family, for the 10th time, the day is approaching.
"That morning I had called them again, just to say 'hey, we're going to be coming over,'" said Jack and Elaine's daughter Sarah Keener.
She and her husband Ladney packed up their 14-, 11- and 9-year-old's to go to "Minkma" and Grandpa's house for Christmas.
"It didn't seem odd on Christmas Eve that I didn't hear from them, but Christmas morning when they didn't answer again, things started feeling odd," she said.
Their car trekked down the country road and found its way up to the house quaintly hidden in the brush.
"Then we drive up, they always meet us. Always," said their son-in-law Ladney Keener.
Something wasn't right.
"I think I was the first one to the door. And it was unlocked. I remember saying, Ladney, it's unlocked," Sarah said.
"I remember walking into the house and it felt off. It felt weird," said their granddaughter Kaelyn Hewitt.
Unlike every other Christmas Sarah and Ladney walked in first.
"When we got into the laundry room area he was beside me, and we were telling the kids to stay back."
They weren't met with the warm smiles they expected, but a gruesome, heartbreaking sight.
"When we got in it was obvious in that moment they were gone."
"I remember seeing pots still on the stove, and the look on mom and dad's face," Kaelyn said.
Moments later Minkma's classic Christmas decorations were guarded by police tape.
"I stayed in the van with the kids. And I remember turning around and telling them, 'MinkMa and Grandpa are dead. I'm sorry, they're gone, we're going to be ok,'" Sarah remembers.
"We all just kind of sat and cried. We sat in silence and just waited," said their grandson Jakob Keener.
Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault responded to the call.
"It breaks my heart every time I see them, every time I hear from them, that I haven't been able to tell them anything yet," he said.
He remembers walking inside.
"They had food in the kitchen that had been prepared, it looked like they had settled down to eat dinner and were interrupted."
His report showed what is still true about the case today.
Both the suspect and circumstances "unknown."
"There's information that would lead me to believe that more than one person was involved," said Cherokee County District Attorney Jack Thorp.
But they don't know when those people arrived.
Reports indicate it could've happened Christmas day or either of the two days before.
"I'm not sure what happened. I can't think of anything that the Denney's were doing wrong."
Neighbors were shocked.
"I mean, they're like family to everybody, you know? Just good people," one man told 2 Works for You in 2007.
"They were vibrant, healthy people. Active people. Had lots more to do," Sarah said.
Chances are if you knew Elaine you had and "Elaine Quilt" and knew the taste of good food.
"I remember sitting in the yard snapping green beans," Kaelyn remembers.
Jack could name every type of tree in his yard, an expert outdoorsman.
Both always smiling, always happy, always loving.
Sarah still holds them close, behind the message she knows they'd want her to hold on to as they continue to wait.
"I think all we need is that one break, that one person to reach out and give us the information that we need," Thorp said.
The DA still working with OSBI on leads, suspects and ultimately a conviction.
"Somebody took their lives. Somebody that had no right to," Kaelyn said.
The Keeners anticipating the day they can tell Grandpa and Minkma justice is served.
"Their death was not who they were," Sarah said, "I have no doubt that justice will happen."
The lead agency over the case is the Oklahoma State Bureau of investigation, and it's providing a reward for info.
If you have any information on the case you're encouraged to call or email their tip line.
That number is 800-522-8017, and the email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or you can send tips directly to the DA at email@example.com.
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