Local News

Nash County man wanted in wife's murder arrested in Arizona

Posted March 17, 2019 1:43 p.m. EDT
Updated March 18, 2019 8:18 a.m. EDT

— Deputies from the Nash County Sheriff's Office will head to Arizona on Monday to bring Lynn Keel back to North Carolina.

Police in Arizona arrested Rexford Lynn Keel Jr., a Nash County man who goes by Lynn, late Sunday morning in connection with the murder of his wife.

Keel, 57, who officials said is the lone suspect in the murder of Diana Keel, was arrested around 11:30 a.m. during a traffic stop near Tucson, Arizona. He was charged with first-degree murder.

A tipster told Nash County officials that Keel fled west, Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said Sunday afternoon during a press conference.

Rexford Lynn Keel Jr.

"I am just glad we got a killer off the road and brought some closure to this case," Stone said, adding that police found a large amount of cash and a pocket knife on Keel when they arrested him.

On Friday, days after a state transportation worker found Diana Keel's body about 30 miles from the couple's Nash County home, Stone issued a warrant for Lynn Keel’s arrest, charging him with first-degree murder.

"My heart goes out to Diana Keel's family," Stone said on Sunday, specifically referencing the couple's 10-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter. "What a sad and traumatic experience this is."

In the press conference, Stone said preliminary reports show Diana Keel may have been stabbed to death, but no other details on the murder or the motive were released. Stone also announced that investigators are looking into the death of Lynn Keel's first wife, Bess, who died in 2006 after a fall that was ruled accidental.

Keel was being held Sunday afternoon in the Pima County jail. Stone said he will be transported to North Carolina on Monday.

Diana Keel's brother, Mauricio, told WRAL that he was aware of the arrest but planed to focus on celebrating his sister's life at a service with family and friends in Columbia.

"I want people to know my sister was always joyful, was happy and was always with a smile on her face no matter what the circumstances were," he said.

Taryn Edwards said she was best friends with Diana Keel for 10 years and said Lynn Keel didn't like their friendship because she encouraged his wife to be independent.

"I helped her, taught her how to drive and helped her get her driver's license, talked to her when she decided that she wanted to go to school, helped her get enrolled in Nash Community," Edwards said.

Edwards said she was also helping Diana Keel plan to leave her husband before he put a stop to their friendship. Looking back, she said she never felt right when Lynn Keel was around.

"It was just the atmosphere and the aura that, you know that vibe that you get from somebody, it was always very tense," she said.

Despite conversations about increasing unhappiness, Edwards said the friend she affectionately called "Ally" never indicated that she was fearful of being physically harmed by her husband.

Diana Keel

"I wish I had found some way to stay in communication with her, and I'll never forgive myself for that," Edwards said. "I'm so sorry that I didn't protect you more."