Welfare Queen?: Oklahoma Woman Confesses to Killing Roommate Over Food Stamps, Tried to Set Victim’s Body on Fire

An Oklahoma woman told federal authorities she strangled a woman she shared a home with and tried to set the victim’s body and home on fire over a food stamp card.

Jessica McBride, 30, of Tulsa, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit arson in Indian Country late last month for the March 2019 killing.

Tracy Russell allowed McBride and her boyfriend to stay in her Tulsa home in exchange for help with groceries, but she later asked the couple to leave. McBride said she strangled Russell in a heated argument because she believed the roommate stole her food stamp card.

“Jessica McBride stayed in the home of the victim, and in return, she took her life because of missing food stamps,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “My office and our law enforcement partners at the Tulsa Police Department and FBI will continue to hold perpetrators, like McBride, accountable for their criminal acts.”

Reports show the 49-year-old Russell had asked McBride to leave three days before the altercation. McBride return to retrieve some of her personal belongings and became “angered” when her former roommate denied taking possession of her purse. She held Russell in a chokehold for 10 seconds.

“McBride did not check if Russell was still breathing before retrieving her purse and other belongings and leaving the residence,” a criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma says.

McBride returned the next day and covered the victim with a blanket and lit “two corners of the blanket on fire before leaving the house,” she told detectives. She asked a friend to return with her a second time to help her set the house on fire. However, McBride’s friend alerted authorities and an undercover cop picked up McBride and drove her to Russell’s home.

Authorities found McBride with a plastic bag with gas camp fuel and lighter fluid as they directed her out of the home and arrested her.

A federal grand jury indicted McBride on charges of second-degree murder in Indian Country, arson in Indian Country, corruptly attempting to alter, destroy, mutilate, and conceal an object to impair its use in an official proceeding, and attempted to commit arson in Indian Country last April, but she pleaded down to the lesser charges in September.

Prosecutors have asked for McBride to serve the maximum 15-year term in federal prison, plus supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

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