Hello, I’m Rebekkah Rosewood. And this is Thrice Cursed.
Today’s episode is a shorter one, but also a little bit of a twofer. Because it’s SO short, I’m going to skip the preamble and just get into it! Today’s case is a little sparse on information. A young woman seems to have vanished from Stillwater, Oklahoma.
As of 2019, Stillwater was the 10th-largest city in Oklahoma, with a population of approximately 49,952. Home to 2 colleges and 2 different trade schools, Stillwater boasts opportunity and inclusivity, even named as one of the 25 best small college towns to live in within the United State. Despite all of that, according to the census, diversity remains lacking, with the population of white people at 73.6%, and Black people at 4.6%. Perhaps that’s why when 23-year-old Darian Michelle Hudson went missing, news coverage was few and far between.
Stillwater, Oklahoma proclaims itself to be “America’s Friendliest College Town… where smiles from strangers are abounding and hometown hospitality is a way of life.” I don’t doubt that. I’ve never been to Stillwater and therefore have no reason to. However, despite all that seems to be amazing about the town, the people within are still human. They still experience ups and downs like anyone else. And Darian was in a downswing.
In 2017, Darian experienced a miscarriage, a breakup, and the death of her beloved dog, Zig. And while I wish I could find more information on any of the above and how they may have tied into her disappearance, I was unable to. With all of the negative changes she’d had no control over affecting her life, Darian decided she would make some positive changes of her own. On October 21st, 2017, she called her mother, Stephanie Hudson.
Stephanie lived in Hutchinson, Kansas, approximately 177 miles away. Even with the distance, Stephanie and Darian spoke every day. Whether it was through text or a call, they were in almost constant contact. Because of this, the phone call on the 21st would have been nothing out of the ordinary, and no cause for alarm. On this call, Darian informed her mother that she would like to move back home to Hutchinson, and begin nursing school. In fact, she had already enrolled in some courses.
Stephanie was more than happy to have her daughter home, and arranged to get Darian and her belongings that weekend, as Darian didn’t have her own car. With all arrangements made, the call ended. Stephanie has not heard from Darian since.
The next day, on the 22nd, Darian missed her shift at Chili’s, where she had worked for 2 years. All sources I could find say that this Chili’s was on Perkins Rd., though when I attempted to find a Chili’s in Stillwater, the only one that came up was on E. Hall of Fame Avenue.
It wasn’t like Darian to not show up for her shift and not call, so her friends became concerned. They began trying to get in contact with her. When they couldn’t get a hold of her, they called Stephanie on October 26th. She drove the nearly 200 miles immediately, and went to the Stillwater police station to report her daughter missing.
Because Darian was 23 at the time of her disappearance, the authorities insisted Stephanie needed to wait 48 hours to report her daughter missing. That didn’t mean Stephanie was going to wait, though. She went to Darian’s neighborhood in the 500 block of West 5th Street, determined to find her daughter. When she arrived at Darian’s home, the door was open, a light was on, and dishes were in the sink. According to Stephanie, it didn’t appear like there had been any kind of a struggle, but Darian’s phone was in her apartment. Like most of us 20-somethings, and almost everyone in existence, at least in America, Darian would never leave her house without her phone. She was “a social media queen,” constantly active and always texting. That paired with the fact no one had been able to reach her solidified that something wasn’t right here.
On October 28th, 2017, once the 48-hour waiting period was over, Stephanie officially reported Darian Michelle Hudson missing.
It would be over a month before any progress would be made in the case, and even then, it wouldn’t be enough.
In early December, police received an alert from a hotel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Someone had just tried to use Darian’s credit card. Authorities traced down the man who’d had her card and questioned him. According to this man, he had found the card in a purse that he’d taken from a construction site in Stillwater. He had been working there when he discovered the purse hanging from a drainage pipe. This construction site was what would eventually become the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, just at the intersection of McElroy Road and Country Club Road.
Investigators took this information and went to the construction site, now confident they were on the right path to find the missing woman. After questioning several employees at the construction site, they were able to determine that someone matching the description of Darian Hudson had been seen there on October 26th, 2017. Apparently two of the workers reported having seen a woman matching Darian’s description. She had been sitting on the ground in a wooded area just south of the church. It was definitely strange, so they went to check on her. When they approached her, she refused to engage. According to the employees, she just stared blankly at them.
After that, they went back to their boss, who sent a group of workers to see what was going on. She wouldn’t interact with them either.
A resident that lived just east of the church also reported having seen the same woman emerge from the woods, and interact with his grandchildren. I could find no other information about what that interaction looked like, just that it happened. One more resident reported that in the evening of that same day, they saw this woman sitting on construction equipment, looking almost as if she was waiting for someone to give her a ride.
With all of these potential sightings, police were certain they were in the right place. On December 4th, they conducted a full-scale search of the area with drones, as well as on foot with cadaver dogs. It was during this search that they discovered Darian’s hooded sweatshirt and wallet. Her wallet still had her ID, some money, and credit cards inside.
Authorities checked with all public transit in the area, and there is no record of Darian having travelled via public transit that day.
That’s where her disappearance stands. Nothing has been found since. No further trail of where she could have gone. The man who was caught using her credit card has been cleared as a suspect, and there don’t seem to be any other persons of interest in her case.
Darian’s family fear that she may have been in the midst of a mental health crisis, which does seem consistent with her refusal or inability to interact with those who approached her. However, there is another possibility that several locals fear may have been the true reason for Darian’s strange departure. After a quick break, I’ll be back to discuss that theory, and why it’s just not a valid one.
And we’re back.
The theory that plagues the back of the minds of Stillwater locals involves the murder of another young woman two years later.
Chelsey Nicole Chaffin was a 29-year-old Native American Woman. She and her boyfriend had a fight on May 24th, 2019. I could find no indication as to what this fight may have been about, however, Chelsey’s boyfriend believed she was having an affair with a man just before her death. She had moved out of their home, and into a residence near East 32nd Avenue and Fairgrounds Road the day prior. This home was owned and occupied by 54-year-old Earl Oswalt Jr., the man in question. In addition to Oswalt, his fiance Billie Barzee also lived there. Chelsea and Oswalt were co-workers at a tile company owned by Armstrong Industries. The headquarters of which is located on Perkins Rd. in Stillwater.
After some interrogation, Oswalt had confessed to killing Chelsey in the early morning hours of May 26th. He’d said that he and Chelsey had been drinking with his roommate, aka Billie Barzee… y’know, his fiancé, when Chelsey became angry and threatened her. He then said that he grabbed Chelsey by her throat from behind. In return, Chelsey hit him in the head and left the room. In his version of events, she later returned, naked. He recalled that he had punched Chelsey in the face, but couldn’t quite remember what else he had done to her that resulted in her death. He said that Oswalt and his roommate/fiancé then wrapped Chelsey in a red blanket, and dumped her off a bridge into the Cimarron River the next day, May 27th, at around 1am.
Barzee, who had spoken to police first, recalls events differently. According to her version of the story, she hadn’t been home when the drinking and murder occurred. Barzee informed the investigators that on the evening of May 25th, she remembered Oswalt and Chelsey playing cards and drinking beer. She went to sleep around 9pm, before waking up to Chelsey standing over her bed. She was holding a bottle and told Barzee that she needed to leave the home. She said that Chelsey stepped back and allowed her to leave the house, which she did at around 4:20a. She swears that at that point in time, Chelsey remained unharmed and had “no visible trauma to her body.” She then alleged that Oswalt had called her just before 4:38 am, but she couldn’t hear him due to Chelsey’s yelling in the background.
Barzee then went on to state that Oswalt picked her up from an unnamed location at approximately 7:30am in a very different state than she had last seen him in. He was covered in blood. His head, chest, and shorts were covered in it, along with his visibly swollen right hand. He then brought Barzee home and instructed her to clean up the blood that was on the living room floor. It was at this point she noticed “Chelsey lying flat on her back nude, with blood around her nose.” Barzee was almost certain Chelsey was dead.
She told investigators that Oswalt then left her alone with Chelsey’s body. He was going to seek medical attention for his injury. Until his return, she was not to open the door for anyone, nor was she allowed to make any phone calls. This was, apparently, nothing new, according to her statement. She alleged that Oswalt had a strict rule that she was never to open the door unless he was home. It was her claim that prior to, during, and after, she was extremely scared of her fiance. --And if anyone listening is thinking that she should “just leave,” I promise you it’s not that simple, and it never will be. The most dangerous time for a woman in an abusive relationship is when she tries to leave.
While Oswalt sought medical attention, Barzee had plenty of time alone with Chelsey’s body. She said that during this time, she observed “horizontal marks on both sides of Chelsey’s neck,” seeming to indicate that she had been strangled. Were we to believe Oswalt’s story, him restraining her by her neck could have been the cause. However, Barzee adamantly refutes those claims. She said that Oswalt “washed Chelsey’s body” with bleach before they took her to the river.
Chelsey Nicole Chaffin’s body remains missing to this day. However, on December 4th, 2020, Earl Oswalt Jr., 56, was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree manslaughter. It was found that he was guilty of fatally punching 29-year-old Chelsey Chaffin in the head that tragic morning.
Alarmingly enough, this wasn’t Oswalt’s first dance with the law. In 1998, he had previously been convicted of first-degree rape in Bryan County Oklahoma, with a recommended 40-year prison sentence. Doing some quick math, that would have had Oswalt in prison well into 2038. Clearly, that didn’t happen. Instead, he was released from Oklahoma’s custody in 2014 so that he could serve two 20-year sentences in Grayson County, Texas. It was there that he had been charged twice for child sexual assault. Instead of serving either of those two 20-year sentences, according to Grayson County Jail’s inmate file, he was released on March 12th, 2015. In my research, most news articles say that he was paroled “sometime in 2017.” I’m not too sure where the mix-up is here.
Either way, here’s where Earl Oswalt Jr. plays into the disappearance of Darian Hudson. Or, at least so people think.
Depending on when Oswalt was paroled, considering he worked at a tile company in Stillwater, that was on the same road as the Chili’s Darian worked at, is it possible he knew her? Maybe he saw her and developed a fixation. Maybe it wasn’t even as ominous as that.
The church where Darian was last seen was under construction at the time. The overall structure of the church was built by a company called Advanced Architectural Stone. However, from what I could find, I don’t believe this company had much to do with the actual inside finishings. Could the Armstrong Tile industry have been working that job? Was Darian sitting near the church, maybe trying to get her head straight, possibly in a mental health crisis, when Oswalt, one of the workers, took a fatal interest?
My initial instinct was that this had to be it. My blood went cold and I had legit chills. But then I did more digging, and my answer changed.
On June 23rd, 2017, Earl Oswalt Jr. was charged with violating the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registration Act. He had been living with two teenagers that were not his own children. For this offense, he was given a 6-month jail term, followed by probation. Doing the very basic math that I’m just barely capable of, June 23rd is only 4 months prior to October 26th, when Darian was last seen. While I could find no evidence that Oswalt served the entire 6-month sentence, according to Stephanie Hudson, authorities confirmed that Oswalt was in prison at the time of Darian’s disappearance. Therefore, this theory holds no water. I included this theory for two reasons. One, because should you decide to google Darian in your off-time, this theory will pop up repeatedly, and I think it’s important to get the information out there that it just isn’t possible. And two, because Chelsey Nicole Chaffin deserves the remembrance as well.
Chelsey Nicole Chaffin was just 29 years old at the time of her senseless murder. Her mother said, “She has the biggest heart ever. Very fun. Very loving. Loved kids. Very beautiful girl. And very naive. She sure didn’t deserve what she got… She trusts everybody and anyone.”
In case Darian is still out there somewhere, this is her description at the time of her last sighting.
Darian Michelle Hudson is a Black female, considered to be light-skinned. She has black hair and brown eyes. Her right nostril is pierced, and she usually wears a ring in it. Her ears are also pierced. On the back of her right shoulder is a tattoo that consists of a large feather, five small birds, and the words “Birds of a feather flock together” written in script underneath. Darian goes by the nicknames D and D-Baby.
Several photos of Darian with different makeup and hairstyles will be posted at the time this episode releases, along with an image of her tattoo.
Darian’s mother Stephanie is quoted as saying, “If you were having a bad day, Darian would change that. She would just flash that smile of hers… or say something funny. She had this big heart that shone through her smile. And well, she was… she is… the light of our lives… She’s not going away, her story isn’t going away. We’re going to find her.”
Anyone with information in regards to Darian Hudson’s disappearance can call Detective Mary Kellison of Stillwater, OK police at (405) 742-8357. Or you can email email@example.com. This information, as well as other points of contact will be posted in the show notes, and everywhere this episode is advertised. And remember, should you leave a tip, you can remain anonymous.
This has been the cursed tale of one girl, gone without a trace, and another, murdered just one day after moving in with someone new.
For more Cursed content, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram at ThriceCursedPod. You can head over to the website where you’ll find every Cursed link you could possibly need like different listening platforms, the blog, discord, patreon, the postcards etc., along with merch, and the address where you can send mail! I LOVE getting mail. Even if it’s just a postcard. In fact, a giant shoutout to listener Katie B who sent me a Spooky season card and some artwork from her kids. It made my week! Thank you Katie, I appreciate you.
To sign up for patreon you can find the link through my website, or search ThriceCursedPod. If you just want to buy me a coffee or some treats for the 3 fluffbutts, I also have a BuyMeACoffee account linked on the website or at ThriceCursedPod. Have a case you want me to look into? Shoot me an email at ThriceCursedPod@gmail.com. As always, thank you for listening to another cursed tale with me.
Until next time, keep your curses hexy, and your hexes sexy.
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