In January of 1997, I was ten years old. It was a BIG year. The last year of fifth grade- feeling so adult like as I would leave elementary school for junior high. It was also a big year for Richard Glossip. But for a very different reason.

In January of 1997, Richard Glossip was arrested for first degree murder. He claimed innocence. 

It is now April of 2023. I am thirty-six years old. Its been a so-so year, but in the intervening years, I ,of course, finished junior high school, and went on to gain several post-high school degrees.

Richard Glossip is now sixty years old, still in prison, still claiming innocence. It has not been a good year for Richard. 

He is set to be executed in twenty-two days.

Born on February 9, 1963 in Galesburg, Illinois, Richard Eugene Glossip was one of sixteen children born to Heron and Sally Glossip. For a good while it seems Richard lived a bit of a nomadic life. At sixteen he would marry and have two children. When that relationship ended Richard would have two more children with a different girlfriend before landing back in Illinois, where he met Deanna Wood while he was working as a manager at a Domino’s Pizza.
When Richard made the decision to move back to Oklahoma to be closer to his family, Deanna followed along with him.

Described as nothing but gentle, caring, and very hard working by his family- Richard would end up working as a manager at a hotel in the seedier part of Oklahoma City in 1995, called the Best Budget Inn. This hotel was one of several owned and operated by Barry Van Treese, a one time banker turned hotel entrepreneur. On the evening of January 6th, 1997, Van Treese made his way from Lawton, Oklahoma to Oklahoma City. He did this with the intention of at least going to the Best Budget Inn to retrieve the weekly deposits, and to give out payroll to his employees. Phone records indicate that Glossip had called Van Treese to inquire about payday at about 5pm on the evening of January 6th, as his payday was supposed to be the day prior. However, the Van Treese family had just gotten back from a four day ski trip. Van Treese arrived in Oklahoma City around 6pm, and made a phone call back home, speaking with his adult son to verify payroll information at 6:18pm. He then left the Oklahoma City hotel at around 7:50-8pm according to Glossip’s girlfriend, Deanna Wood, Van Treese had stated he was on his way to the Tulsa Best Budget Inn to, presumably, also conduct payroll and deposits.
The times are verified by both trial testimony of Deanna Wood, saying that Barry had stated “If Donna calls, tell her I left at 8pm” (Donna is Barry Van Treese’s wife), and his Pike Pass records. Pike Pass is an electronic toll paying device, similar to an EZ Pass. The Pike Pass records have Van Treese entering the Turner Turnpike in Oklahoma City on exit 138 at 8:33pm and then exiting the Turner Turnpike in Tulsa at exit 221 at 9:44pm. However, the manager of the Best Budget Inn in Tulsa testified that Van Treese didn’t get to the hotel until at least 11 pm that night, leaving more than an hour of Van Treese’s time unaccounted for, as the hotel is located approximately twelve miles and fourteen minutes from exit 221. To date, we do not know where Barry Van Treese was or what he was doing during that hour. 

Timeline created by Amanda Newland-Davis, 2023
According to the testimony of the Tulsa manager, Van Treese left that hotel around 12:15 am. Van Treese called about fifteen or so minutes after leaving to tell said manager that if his wife called to tell her that he left Tulsa at 12:20am and would be back in Lawton in about five and a half hours. He also allegedly stated to tell Donna that he was going to stop in Oklahoma City to get his money. What money this supposedly was, we don’t know, as Van Treese had already previously picked up the week's deposit money when he was at the Oklahoma City location earlier in the evening. The drive from the Tulsa Best Budget Inn location to where the Van Treese family lived in Lawton takes about three hours and fifteen minutes. This leaves about two hours unaccounted for in Van Treese’s supposed travel plans that he told to the Tulsa manager. Even if he needed to stop back into the Oklahoma City Best Budget Inn location, given that his entire transaction at Tulsa was less than an hour, and that Van Treese had picked up his deposits from Oklahoma City earlier in his trip, I cannot imagine why he would think picking up any other money would take him over two hours. Pike Pass records show Van Treese exiting the Turner Turnpike in Oklahoma City at 1:36am, if he had gone directly to the Best Budget Inn, he would have arrived there around 2:15am

The next morning, Van Treese had not made it home to Lawton. Donna Van Treese, though, was apparently unconcerned about this. 

For what happens next, its important to understand the location of the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City. In close proximity to the hotel you will find: a gas station, a strip club, and a credit union. All three of these places will come to factor in the case against Richard Glossip.  The below photos from the recently released independent investigation into this case show you exactly how it was laid out.

Photos of Best Budget Inn surrounding area, taken from Reed Smith report 2022
At 6:30am the morning of January 7, 1997, an employee arriving to work at the Weokie Credit Union noticed a “gray Buick LaSabre” parked at the credit union near where they kept repossessed vehicles. She then called the sheriff’s department about the vehicle, because it didn’t belong to the bank. Around 1:30pm that same afternoon a sheriff’s deputy arrived at the credit union to check on the vehicle. The sheriff’s deputy noted in his report that the vehicle was found parked two spaces over from an abandoned Dodge van that had the passenger window broken out and the steering column had been “punched”. Upon opening the unlocked vehicle, the deputy found an envelope with the address for the Oklahoma City Best Budget Inn on it, and at about 2pm he called the hotel to ask about the vehicle. He spoke to the daytime desk clerk Billye Hooper, who identified the vehicle as belonging to Barry Van Treese. Hooper would contact Donna Van Treese around 3pm, while the deputy contacted the Oklahoma City Police Department to notify them of the vehicle. In the subsequent missing persons report filed, Donna Van Treese would state that her husband had left their home in Lawton the day before to go to the Oklahoma City hotel and then onto the Tulsa hotel. She stated that Van Treese had apparently left the Tulsa location at approximately 12:30 am, and that he had left a message with the Tulsa hotel manager stating that he would be back home in Lawton in about five and a half hours. Donna Van Treese then states that she had no idea her husband was stopping back in Oklahoma City. Barry Van Treese was officially reported as a missing person at 3:10pm on Tuesday, January 7th. However, despite his vehicle being found virtually next door to the hotel he owned, despite this vehicle being found seemingly abandoned- no one from either the hotel staff or from the Oklahoma City Police Department would search any of the hotel’s rooms until at least seven hours later. 

Instead- they took the word of a man named Cliff Everhart that he and the maintenance man, Justin Sneed had searched the rooms and had not found Barry Van Treese. It is around this point that events start getting murky, at best.

Cliff Everhart was the self-described security guard for the Best Budget Inn. It is not disputed that Everhart was a person often seen at the hotel. It does seem that the first officers on scene took Everhart at his word for his role in the hotel’s business- and that a thorough search had been conducted in the hotel rooms in the search for Van Treese. The police themselves would not actually look in the hotel room number 102 until about 9:50pm when they had been advised of a broken window in that room. Upon entering room 102, the body of Barry Van Treese was found, and it was a horrific scene. 
Barry would have been found and much more evidence preserved if the authorities on scene had taken complete control and searched the hotel themselves. It turns out that the maintenance man, Justin Sneed, who was told by Everhart to search the rooms- did no such thing. And by all appearances had no intention of searching the rooms. He instead used this time to hide his bloody clothing in the laundry room of the hotel on a shelf with curtains so they would not be noticed, return to room number 117 of the hotel that he lived in, collect his belongings and hit the road. 

The police had their killer within minutes of arriving at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City, and instead of questioning him, they allowed him to be a part of the initial search of the rooms, and they allowed his escape. 

And Richard Glossip will die in twenty-two days.

Photo of Justin Sneed taken from Killing Richard Glossip, 2017

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