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Monday, June 08, 2009

Shooting deaths of Oklahoma girls remain a mystery one year later

By Emanuella Grinberg
June 8, 2009

(CNN) -- William Whitaker is certain that somebody in the central Oklahoman community where he lives knows who killed his daughter.

The dirt road where the bodies of 11-year-old Skyla Jade Whitaker and Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, were found is too remote for the killings to be the work of a stranger passing through, he says.

"There's absolutely no way that somebody from out of the area could've just stumbled upon the place," Whitaker said. "I know whoever did it told somebody, whether they were drinking or bragging or whatever, and whoever knows just needs to bring the information forward."

It has been a year since the two friends were shot multiple times in the stomach and chest less than a half a mile from Taylor's home in the rural community of Weleetka, with a population just over 1,000.

"Taylor was shot five times. My daughter was shot eight times. Thirteen shots between two little girls who never did anything to anyone," Whitaker said. "I don't know how a person can go to work, eat or sleep knowing what they did. I couldn't live with that on my conscience, but they've been doing it for a year now."
In the beginning, hundreds of tips poured in. Authorities pursued leads and analyzed evidence, but a year later, they have no suspects or witnesses leading them to any viable conclusions.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Jessica Brown said during a press conference Monday that authorities have "good evidence" in the case but lack the final piece to make an arrest...

"What we are frustrated about is the lack of cooperation we're getting from members of the public," Brown said. She stressed Monday that a $36,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to a conviction.

The girls were shot with two different guns, leading to the possibility that two people were involved, Brown said. The OSBI released a sketch of a person wanted for questioning last year, but they have not received information leading to him, she said.

But the killings remain fresh in the minds of Oklahomans. A billboard with the girls' faces and a tip hotline has loomed over Interstate 40 for several months. A memorial service was planned for Monday, June 4, in Weleetka to mark the anniversary...

Weleetka Police Officer Stacey Rice will never forget the image of the dead girls. He was the second officer on the scene after a relative called 911 around 5:30 p.m. that day.

"I really hope I never see anything like that again. It's just emotionally and visually traumatic. You see two small children lying on the ground like that and it's kind of hard to explain. Makes you want to go find your children," said Rice, a father of two teenage boys.

"It took me several minutes to realize what happened, but after a while, it kind of sank in, and that's when emotions started running ... anger, lots of anger, sadness, disbelief. Nobody wanted to believe what had happened."...

Whitaker finds solace in visiting the memorial site set up at the crime scene, where people leave bouquets of flowers, stuffed animals, cards and other mementos. The most recent addition to the site is an 8-foot cross donated by members of the community. stuff people

"I just get a feeling whenever I'm there. It's real quiet out there, and I see the brought and it's kind of comforting, it really is. I know she's in a better place right now, she don't feel sickness, don't feel pain. She's in a better place, and it's my way of remembering."

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