How an ex-Marine and liar became a hit man

An in-depth look at David Tyner, the "Cathouse" killer, and his victims

The gas company employee who arrived at the scene told a police officer he believed the house belonged to Jose Fierro, a former worker for the company who was recently fired for failing a drug test. The initial suspicion was that Fierro was one of the four charred bodies found in the home.

Blocks away, Fierro was at his grandmother's house phoning a lawyer. He didn't speak with police for two days. When he did, he told them about a man he knew only as Hooligan.

Stanton awoke that morning to find Tyner gone, but she didn't consider it unusual: He normally worked out early. She saw him around noon that day and for most of the next week. He was acting normally. Neither he nor her car smelled of petroleum. Nothing incriminating was present.

Tim Lane

At 1511, police established that Barrientos was wearing $10,000 worth of jewelry the night he was murdered. It was now missing. And for a house typically stuffed with thousands of dollars, only $221 remained.

Tyner made several phone calls that week. Speaking with Perry Sanders, Karine's father, he said he would be seeing the incarcerated man "very soon." He talked to Nicholson, who had U.S. marshals at his door looking for Tyner, the man they now knew to be Hooligan.

At first, Tyner played dumb, asking what they wanted. "You can't run from the law," Nicholson said. "Waste of time, waste of energy."

On November 17, Tyner walked into the Pryor police station, 10 miles from Salina. "I'm David Tyner," he announced. "I hear you guys are looking for me." He refused to speak to detectives. Nicholson tried to get some money together for a lawyer.

"Don't you stress about that," Tyner told him. "I got this public defender."

On November 24, coordinated attacks broke out across three Oklahoma prisons, with Mexican inmates attacking members of the Indian Brotherhood: blood for Barrientos's blood. Six were hospitalized.

Days later, two American Indians took a hatchet to two Hispanic gang members, wounding both. The prisons were in lockdown for months.

Denny Phillips was described as a "person of interest" in the case, but evidence was scant. He remained below the radar until January 2010, when he was arrested for possessing a weapon as a convicted felon. He had the audacity to rob the home of Tulsa homicide detective Mike Huff, stealing a police uniform, guns, family heirlooms, and even Huff's Chevrolet pickup. Police feared he was desperate and organized a task force to hunt him down.

With Tyner incarcerated, Symantha Stanton began dating Phillips. She was pregnant with his child when both were cornered in a Tulsa Motel 6 in April 2010. Phillips brandished a gun he had stolen from Huff and hopped around in a fighting stance; police opened fire, careful not to shoot into the windows behind Phillips that may have obscured guests. He suffered bullet wounds to his torso and crotch; his testicles were unsalvageable and his penis partially severed. He also lost a toe in the melee.

Phillips was sentenced to seven years for the Huff burglary and assorted weapons charges: Oklahoma District Attorney David Prater built his case glacially, but finally indicted Phillips in August 2012 for the six murders and on one count of conspiracy. He's currently awaiting trial; witnesses have paraded through the court room during preliminary hearings to detail how proud he seemed of the crime.

Prosecutors allege that he plotted the murders, but have not ascertained whether he was in the house or simply nearby; inmate Michael Mease testified that Phillips, locked up after the Tulsa shootout, told him of the murders and that Brooke "just wouldn't die." (Prater, Tyner's defense attorneys, and Oklahoma City Police Department detectives did not respond to requests for comment; Phillips has pleaded not guilty.)

In May 2012, after several years' worth of hearings and testimony from Fierro, Sanders, and Stanton, Tyner pleaded guilty to six counts of murder: four adults and two fetuses. If he had gone to trial, he would have faced the death penalty. The plea afforded him life in prison with no option to appeal.

"He was a competitive wrestler," Cindy David says. "It's hard to believe he'd lie down and not fight."

Tyner received his sentence as members of the victims' families looked on, chastising him in written statements. The man who once never shut up would not say a word.

Tyner has not responded to requests for interviews, nor has he provided any testimony regarding Phillips, likely out of fear that the Indian Brotherhood will retaliate against his family. When he was arrested, his attorneys told the mother of his youngest child to leave town immediately. She didn't return for months.

Before he was sentenced, Tyner was visited in jail by Justin Wren, a mixed martial artist turned prison minister who was addressing inmates about his own tumultuous past with drugs. An official took him to see Tyner, who, according to Wren, was surrounded by four to six guards and "looked like Hannibal Lecter without the mask." Chains and buckles tethered him to his bed. A previous visit had not gone well, a guard said, and Tyner had threatened violence.

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This is a factually inaccurate article which should be treated as fiction.

CinBlueland topcommenter

Just my 2c, Yes the guy was a pogue. 

But, how is this a MN related article? I don't see a post/article about Obama's stooge in Egypt being ousted.

Or is this some weird projection that all Marines are lying, nutcases? Be a reporter, lets dig deeper, what is the % of non-combat MOS types doing stupid/bad shit to those in combat MOS's, and have had heavy combat action.

Or was this just a hit piece to try and piss on the Marines?

Who stands on that wall at night Rossen? 99% of the Marines don't ask your your approval, appreciation, hell even respect. 

But if you're going to throw stones about how evil they are, what is the pct of Marine on Civilian crime vs civilian on civilian crime??


Interesting article. Doesn't take much to push someone off the path.

swmnguy topcommenter

@CinBlueland  By the way, what's the derivation of the expression, "the guy was a pogue"?  I can guess what you mean from context, of course.  I don't think I've heard it before.  Any special meaning?

CinBlueland topcommenter

Just a little context, you're aware that an "average" Marine could drop you from 300 to 500 meters? How many of us go off the Res as it were? You're in far more danger from a local banger who likes to spray and pray.

swmnguy topcommenter

@CinBlueland I think you're being a little touchy here, Cin.  That this guy did a hitch in the Marines is parenthetical to the story, in reality and in presentation.  This guy actually fits the profile, to a T, of the kids the Marines recruit relentlessly in small towns.  Athletic, competitive, marginally connected to family and friends; tendency toward risk-taking, trouble-making and violence.  

I knew a half-dozen guys at least who came to the end of high school and you wondered, are they going to get to Marine Boot Camp before they get put in jail/prison?  In the small town, the Marine recruiter would actually go to court with the young defendant, and as long as the charges weren't too heinous or overly publicized (and any victims were of a lower social status), a deal would be worked out where charges would be suspended conditionally, as long as the kid actually went to Boot Camp and stayed in the Corps (and out of town) for a set period of time.

Hey, it worked more often that it didn't.  For most young men in rural areas, if you're not college material, after high school sports are over there is no socially acceptable outlet for violence and adventure.  Either join the service, or get married, or drink heavily and wind up in jail.

Most of the guys i remember wanted to be in the Marines because the Marine recruiters really laid it on thick.  Of the guys who went that route, I remember a couple who washed out, but even that was good for them because as they said, "I used to think I knew what sucked, but after Marine boot camp I can tell you I had no idea."

And then of course there was Steve Jenkins/Anderson, who was so crazy the Marines wouldn't take him.  You can Google how he turned out.

CinBlueland topcommenter

@lenti Like the Columbine, Colorado, Sandy Hook killers?  Nothing personal, just bugs me when Marines are dragged into these things.. Texas, and in theory JFK, OK, but if you're going report on this junk, then start attaching gang affliations as well.

CinBlueland topcommenter

@swmnguy @CinBlueland In short, he was not a line troop. I'm not going to try and buff myself up... Just go to your local VFW.

CinBlueland topcommenter

@swmnguy @CinBlueland swmnguy, was this the 70's?

Marine recruiting standards jumped pretty high in the 80s/90's. The jail or Marines option was out. 99% of the guys I served with were educated, and motivated. Yes a great way to see the world, but when the call came we came. 

Recruiters laying it on thick?? I know they have quotas but mine said "If you join you will see combat" How thick is that?

Sorry about being defensive, we/they give their all. Nothing is asked for in return.

swmnguy topcommenter

@CinBlueland  Actually, Cin, this guy's gang affiliations are far more central to this story as told here than his record in the Marines.  And the story makes it very clear that none of his fellow Marines were exactly fans of his.

swmnguy topcommenter

@CinBlueland  You don't have to apologize to me about anything.  Yes, I was referring to the guys I knew growing up in the 70s, but also well into the 80s.  

The guys who wanted to join the Marines wanted to see combat.  That was why they were interested in the first place.  The guys considered losers, or less-motivated, usually chose the Army.  There were exceptions; I knew a couple guys who seemed like top-shelf recruits who went into the Army because they were 4th generation or something like that.

In farm country when i was a kid, no recruiter had much trouble meeting a quota.  Rural America has been in a Depression for about 40 years, in many ways.

The story made it very clear to my eye that this guy was in no way a good Marine. When you say, "we/they give their all," I don't think we're talking about the guy in this story.  I did not take this guy as any reflection whatsoever on the Marine Corps, or the military in general.

I do think you're being overly sensitive about it, and I also do not think you need to apologize to me about it.  There are things I'm overly sensitive about myself and I don't think I need to apologize about that.


@CinBlueland @swmnguy Sorry, but that is absolute nonsense. I am a Vietnam veteran, honorably discharged from The United States Marine Corps in 1971. From then on I referred to myself, and was warmly referred to by others, as an ex-Marine. I went on to college under the GI bill, then to the military medical school, USUHS--- always referred to as an ex-Marine by my classmates, most of whom were active duty line officers before they entered USUHS. Later, as a USN Medical Officer, I served two years at the USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center in Northern California, and then four years at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton. Every single active duty Marine I had contact with referred to me as an ex-Marine. Every single Marine retiree I had contact referred to himself as an ex-Marine.

The "former" qualifier came into use much later, and as far as I can tell is, for some bizarre and arbitrary reason, considered 'politically correct'. The term former Marine is fine if you choose to use it. However, I will not be corrected but whippersnappers who were not even born yet when I was, again, honorably, discharged from the Corps. 

CinBlueland topcommenter

@swmnguy You may hear trash talk about the Suck.. Still not your place to comment.. Unless you've served and did your time.. Your comments mean nothing. Do a little homework on Ex vs Former Marine