UPDATED: 2 girls killed near Weleetka
BY MANNY GAMALLO, World Staff Writer
Monday, June 09, 2008
6/09/08 at 8:27 PM
TULSA -- The bodies of two young girls shot to death near the small town of Weleetka in Okfuskee County were discovered by the grandfather of one of the best friends, along a dirt road the pair used dozens of times to play and walk to sleepovers, grieving family members said Monday.
The bodies of 11-year-old Skyla Whitaker and 13-year-old Taylor Paschal-Placker were found Sunday night by Taylor's grandfather, Peter Placker, after he became worried when his wife tried calling the girl's cellular phone and got no answer.
The girls, who were sleeping over at Taylor's house, decided to take a walk down the desolate road Sunday afternoon, something they were used to doing in their rural community.
"I can't describe coming up on it," Peter Placker said, sobbing uncontrollably, as he tried to remember walking up on the scene, only about one-quarter mile from his house. "I done it once and I can't do it again."
Stan Florence, inspector with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, confirmed the names of the girls Monday. Florence said the victims were shot "multiple times" and it was unknown if they were molested.
By Monday afternoon, at least 20 investigators were examining the crime scene and pursuing leads that came in overnight, but authorities had yet to release any details about a possible suspect.
Meanwhile, relatives tried to make sense of the grisly killings in a community where some folks still leave their keys in their cars and residents who live 10 miles apart still call themselves neighbors.
Skyla was the carefree adventurer, the girl who walked barefoot almost everywhere and rode her bicycle down endless dirt roads. Where she went, her many cats followed, along with her pet goat. Skyla wanted to become a veterinarian, said her grandmother, Claudia Farrow.
To know Taylor was to love her. She was the big-hearted girl who rescued helpless turtles crawling in the middle of the road and wanted to become a forensic scientist, like on the TV shows, said Peter Placker, who says he raised Taylor like a father even though he was her grandparent.
She was home-schooled until the family moved to Weleetka, located about 70 miles south of Tulsa.
"She was the best kid I've known," Placker said.