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Murder suspect faces extradition

Nash County man faces charges in wife’s death

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An extradition hearing is set for the Nash County man who was captured Sunday in Arizona. Authorities say 57-year-old Rexford Lynn Keel Jr. was arrested Sunday morning in Tucson, Arizona, after a traffic stop on Interstate 10.

Keel, who fled the state in a pickup truck, is accused of killing his wife, 38-year-old Diana Alejandra Keel, who went missing on March 9.

The extradition hearing is slated for Thursday afternoon. If Keel fights extradition, officials may need to seek a governor’s warrant, said Brandon Medina, Nash County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy. Medina said if Keel doesn’t contest it, then Sheriff Keith Stone and several investigative personnel will head to Arizona.

Keel didn’t make any statements after his Sunday arrest, but authorities did “many” Wells Fargo receipts and a “large sum” of money on him, officials said.

His wife’s body was found March 12 in rural Edgecombe County about 30 minutes from the couple’s 208 Old County Home Road home in Momeyer, less than 2 miles from Nash Correctional Institution.

Her husband quickly became a person of interest in the case after he told investigators he last saw his wife on March 8 when she left with friends. He also told investigators that his wife would leave from time to time, according to officials.

Authorities obtained an arrest warrant charging Rexford Keel with first-degree murder on Friday.

Nash County deputies were called to Diana and Rexford Keel’s home on March 9 after her 18-year-old daughter reported her missing. Diana’s vehicle was still in the driveway.

A state Department of Transportation worker who was not part of the search found Diana Keel’s body, which had been dumped a few miles outside the town of Leggett between N.C. 97 and N.C. 33.

The missing person case quickly turned into a homicide investigation after medical examiners attributed her death to foul play.

The mother of two had worked as an emergency room nurse at Wilson Medical Center since 2017.

The medical examiner hasn’t released Diana Keel’s official cause of death.

Nash County detectives followed up on another incident involving Rexford Lynn Keel’s late wife, 42-year-old Elizabeth Edwards Keel, who died at the same Old County Home Road home on Jan. 1, 2006.

The medical examiner’s office ruled her death accidental and she died as result of blunt-force trauma after falling and striking her forehead on the corner of the front concrete steps of their home, according to the Nash County Sheriff’s Office.

The couple was married for more than 20 years prior to her death, according to their 1982 wedding announcement published in The Spring Hope Enterprise. Elizabeth was a lifelong resident of Momeyer and a graduate of N.C. Wesleyan College, according to her obituary.

Medina said deputies have looked at the report regarding Elizabeth’s death but their primary concern and focus was to apprehend Keel at the time.

He said they will probably consult with the district attorney’s office about the 2006 case.