© 2024 KGOU
Photo of Lake Murray State Park showing Tucker Tower and the marina in the background
News and Music for Oklahoma
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Labor Commissioner Mark Costello Stabbed To Death In Northwest Oklahoma City

Former Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello
Oklahoma Labor Commission

Updated 1:01 p.m.

The family of slain Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello issued a statement Monday afternoon addressing his son Christian's mental illness.

"Christian, like thousands of Oklahomans, struggles with a mental health disease and like many families we did our best to support him. Mark was committed to being there for his son and provided whatever help he could as a father," the statement reads.

The family asked for privacy, saying that even though Mark Costello loved to brag about his children's success, as a public figure, he viewed his family life as personal.

Costello was stabbed to death Sunday night at an Oklahoma City restaurant after he and his wife Cathy met with their son Christian. The encounter turned violent, and Christian Costello was arrested on a complaint of first-degree murder. 

Updated 11:38 a.m.:

The man arrested in connection with the Sunday evening stabbing death of Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello has a history of mental health issues.

Costello's son Christian, who's being held on a complaint of first-degree murder, was confined for three months for threatment of a mental illness, according to records obtained by the Associated Press:

Court records show that Christian Costello, 26, disclosed the treatment as part of a deal with prosecutors after he was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs in 2012. He also noted he was taking mood stabilizers. ... Christian Costello pleaded guilty and received a deferred sentence in the DUI case, in which he was also accused of assaulting the Oklahoma County deputy arresting him. Last October, he was cited for outraging public decency — a misdemeanor — for allegedly appearing outside of an Oklahoma City Catholic school in pajamas with his pants down and wearing one green shoe. The case remains unresolved.

Updated 10:42 a.m.

Oklahoma City police provided an update Monday morning on Sunday's stabbing death of Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.

Costello and his wife Cathy met their son Christian at a Braum's on May Ave. near Hefner Road in northwest Oklahoma City. The younger Costello allegedly attacked his father and chased him into the parking lot, where he continued to stab Mark Costello multiple times in the head and neck. It's not clear why the meeting turned violent.

Officers were dispatched at 6:35 p.m. Sunday, and found Costello stabbed multiple times and sitting in his vehicle.

"We have the person in jail who we firmly believe was the attacker who caused Mr. Mark Costello's death," said Oklahoma City Police Spokesman Capt. Paco Balderrama.

Balderrama says witnesses knocked Christian Costello down with a vehicle to keep him from further attacking his father.

"They secured him on the ground until police got there and took custody of Christian Costello," Balderrama said. 

He was arrested on a complaint of first-degree murder. Christian Costello had a knife on him when meeting with his father, although Balderrama said it's not known whether the attack was premeditated. Police have interviewed 17 witnesses, and it could be weeks before the case is presented to the Oklahoma County District Attorney for formal charges.

Gov. Mary Fallin plans to meet with reporters Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. regarding Costello's death. She said in a statement Monday morning Oklahoma lost a dedicated public servant.

“In honor of Mark’s life and his service to the state, all flags on state property will be flown at half-staff through the end of the week," Fallin said.

The flags will be lowered as soon as an executive order is filed.

The Oklahoma Department of Labor closed Monday due to Costello's death, and plans to reopen its doors Tuesday morning. Grief counselors were on hand to tend to the needs of Costello's staff.

"Mark Costello was a tremendous leader, colleague and most importantly friend to all of those at the Oklahoma Department of Labor," chief of staff Jim Marshall said on the department's website. "Our hearts ache as an agency for this tragic event and our department grieves for his family during this very difficult time."

Original Post

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello died Sunday night after being stabbed at a fast-food restaurant in northwest Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City Police Department spokesman Capt. Paco Balderrama says Costello's 26-year-old son Christian was arrested on a first-degree murder complaint and taken into custody at the restaurant shortly after the attack.

Officers responded to a report of a stabbing at a Braum's restaurant on May Ave. just north of Hefner Road and found Costello, who had been stabbed multiple times in the head and neck area.

The Oklahoman reports Mark Costello and his wife Cathy met with Christian Costello in an attempted reconciliation before the stabbing took place shortly after 6:30 p.m.:

Police were told by witnesses the two men got into a heated argument that escalated into violence as the killer stabbed the victim with a knife. “He made his way around the Braum’s seeking help,” [Oklahoma City Police Lt. Alex] Edwards said. “He then went outside to the south of the restaurant and was confronted again.” Mark Costello was stabbed again in the parking lot, and police say it was at this time others at the restaurant restrained the killer while awaiting for police to arrive. Witnesses reported the killer remained agitated and tried to go after the victim again. One of the customers punched the killer to stop the attack. Police arrived within four minutes and found Mark Costello dying in a car in the parking lot. They attempted CPR and wound compression, but Costello was pronounced dead upon arrival at OU Medical Center.

Christian Costello after a 2014 arrest for indecent exposure.
Credit Oklahoma County Jail
Christian Costello after a 2014 arrest for indecent exposure.

Online court records indicate Christian Costello was arrested in 2014 on complaints of outraging public decency. He was accused of exposing himself to people at a school in The Village, according to News9:

A woman told police 26-year-old Christian Costello was walking around the school Friday afternoon around 4 p.m. The woman said she saw him with his pants down in front of a school window. He then reportedly turned to face her with his genitals exposed. Officers with The Village Police Department said when they found Costello, he was chewing on bird feathers, dandelions and other weeds.

Christian Costello also pleaded guilty in 2012 to assault and battery on a police officer, driving while under the influence of a drug, and resisting arrest.

Mark Costello was elected labor commissioner in November 2010 after a three-decade career in the telecommunications industry. His biography on the Labor Commission’s website says the Bartlesville native lived in Edmond with his wife Cathy. The couple has five children.

Under Article VI, Section 13 of the Oklahoma Constitution, Gov. Mary Fallin will appoint someone to fill the vacancy in the labor commission’s office until the election of a successor.

State and federal leaders spoke fondly of Costello in statements on social media Sunday night and Monday morning.

State Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) said Costello was uniquely enthusiastic about his job, loved serving, and wanted to leave the state a better place. U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said Costello was passionate about the nation and conservative fiscal principles.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

KGOU relies on voluntary contributions from readers and listeners to further its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. To contribute to our efforts, make your donation online, or contact our Membership department.

Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
More News
Support nonprofit, public service journalism you trust. Give now.